Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A1019-W665



Release Date: June 17, 2017



Topic: History Lessons We Learned from the June 4 Massacre in 1989 -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:六四的历史教训 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)



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History Lessons We Learned from the June 4 Massacre in 1989

-- Wei Jingsheng



It has been 28 years since the June 4 Massacre.  The blood of the holocaust is still vivid to the witnesses.  The tyranny in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is over, yet why are we the Chinese people still under the suppression of tyranny?  This is illogical to many people.  But under the illogical surface, there must be deep logic yet for us to understand and think about.


From the big processions (in the spring of 1989) in commemoration of Hu Yaobang, demonstrations started in full swing all over China.  Not only the students, but the workers and the general citizens had also gradually come into the mainstream protest, which even included all levels of the Communist Party leadership except the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.  That was indeed the time when all people thought of change and tried to work together for it.  Under such huge pressure from the public, even the government of "the North Ocean Army" (a powerful, Western-style Imperial Chinese Army initially established by the Qing Dynasty government in the late 19th century), which was established by guns, could not stand and had to compromise and make a retreat from the people; as well as the Tunisian dictatorship fall and Communist Parties in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed.  Why not China?  We need to review the scene back then.


In 1989, there was proof of the non-presence of some high-level intellectuals who were considered as mentors and leaders by the students and the masses.  Yet, some of them spoke from home and said: I am only responsible for mobilizing the masses; or even said: my responsibility is to provide ideas, not for the political movement.  Some people simply traveled out of the city.  This kind of actions may be the precedent of the nowadays police who make the dissidents to travel and drink tea when to achieve their purposes.


What we all saw was only how inexperienced these students were at the TianAnMen Square and far reached to the reality.  How could they send these 3 gentlemen who damaged the portrait of Mao Zedong to the police?  Do they know the difference between enemy and friend?  This action indeed illustrates that these leaders of the movement were really young kids with neither experience, nor minds.  Simply put, there was no leader or no decent leader then.


There was no leader or no decent, experienced, and thoughtful leader.  This lack is one of the main reasons why the movement of the people was vast but inevitably failed.  A serious political movement is like a ship sailing in the sea, and there must be a captain.  It is best to have an experienced captain with a mind to lead everyone to reach the destination.  When there was no captain, or two or more captains, the probability of capsize will be multiplied.  As the rural proverb says: the house will not be built straight where there are too many carpenters taking charge.


Historically, any revolution that succeeded in overthrowing power or changing dynasties is successful when there are pressures from two or even three directions.  First is the accumulation of social contradictions over many years, when people's rebellious minds gradually increase to be over the limit that the order can withstand.  That pressure was called the usable power of the people by ancient Chinese.  A second pressure is division within the ruling class, when the contradictions within are so strong that they are difficult to reconcile.  Sometimes there is a third pressure; when there are external forces involved, such as in 1644 when Mandarins in the northeast of China went southward which eventually ended the rule of the Ming Dynasty.


In 1989, the first pressure of social contradictions had not accumulated strongly enough, and the goals of people's resistance were not clear enough.  Occasionally, we saw slogans of democracy, freedom, and end of dictatorship.  Yet the absolute majority of slogans had goals of reform, such as "support the Communist Party against the businesses lead by officials"; "we want good officials not corrupt ones", and so on.  I do not know who tried to mislead the students who occupied the TianAnMen Square into thinking if they ever successfully ended "business lead by officials", they would make history and even become the leaders in China.  There were slogans of "down with the dictatorship" that got removed quickly by the picket team, in an effort to maintain the so-called "purity of the students".  These actions prove that the people were still relatively weak, and their conscience of resistance was not high enough.  So even if some people may have tried to incite them, it would not reach the level of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  Thus the failure in China in 1989 was not accidental, but inevitable.


The second pressure of a sharp contradiction of the upper classes indeed had reached a sufficient level.  As Mr. Bao Tong pointed out to then premier Zhao Ziyang: This is a struggle for life and death, and should not be softly handled.  But the so-called reformers lead by Zhao had given up their responsibilities, and were not willing to take the responsibility for a revolution to overthrow the Communist Party's leadership.  They were not willing to overthrow the one party dictatorship as had happened in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but rather let innocent students and the public to bleed, to sacrifice their lives.  This was an accidental reason, but this was the key reason.


The third pressure although not necessary, is also important.  Historically, not every revolution had the interference of external forces every time, but sometimes the interference of external forces was a key factor to win victory.  For example, during the Independence War of the USA, without the help of the French army it would be impossible for a bunch of poorly trained militia to overcome the well-equipped and well-trained British regular army.


But in 1989 in Beijing, although we could feel the support of people from all over the world, we could not feel the pressure and solidarity from the democratic camps.  This is very different from the situation of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  Even the President of the United States George H. Bush hastily replaced the ambassador who supported the pro-democracy movement, and declared that he would not interfere with the "internal affairs" in China.  These erroneous signals became the key and decisive factor in the determination of the Deng Xiaoping clique to massacre the people.


Some of the more extreme commentators think that the willingness to help the revolution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe but not China was due to the factor of white racism.  I think this accusation is not fair and did not point to the real cause of the problem.  Even since late 1980's, the United States has ignored the democratic movement in China.  It is due to the large US companies' interest in China.


The Chinese Communist regime has been propagating the idea that if the Communist Party is down, there will be a chaotic war between warlords in China, and the order will not be restored for many years.  This chaos is what the domestic and foreign business people do not like to see.  Making extra profit under the protection of an authoritarian regime will make business people overjoyed and forget about their conscience.  This gang of black, white, and yellow colored business people is not concerned with the ideal of racism, but only to earn enough dirty money and thus give up their conscience.  This result is also a historical necessity and not a strange thing.  Unfortunately, in 1989, there was no leader to tell the students and the people how to avoid or bypass this inevitability.


Now, after 28 years of accumulation, it can be said that the times are different, with all kinds of conditions becoming more sufficient than before.  The biggest difference is that after the bloody massacre of the Communist regime, the Chinese people quickly cleared their eyes and saw the essence of the Communist Party.  People will be more determined to move, with their clear goal towards a democratic system.  It can be said that the conditions of the revolution in China are more mature than they were in 1989.



To hear Mr. Wei Jingsheng's related commentary, please visit:



(Written on June 7 and recorded on June 8, 2017.  Broadcasted by Radio Free Asia.)



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A1019-W665



Release Date: June 17, 2017



Topic: History Lessons We Learned from the June 4 Massacre in 1989 -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:六四的历史教训 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)









-- 魏京生







































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