“The Tragedy of the Tiananmen Square Incident and China’s Growing Clampdown

“The Tragedy of the Tiananmen Square Incident and China’s Growing Clampdown

Bereaved Families’ “Criticism” of the Regime Lurks in the Shadows Because of the National Security Law”


article by Fumihiro Yamazaki FNN Beijing Branch Chief Reporter

Bereaved families still grieving

“My feelings are the same as they were 32 years ago.

Ms. Zhang Xianling (84), who lost her then 19-year-old son in the Tiananmen Square protests on June 4, 32 years ago, spoke first.

Zhang Xianling (right), who lost her 19-year-old son in the incident.

“She said, “Children and their mothers have a heart-to-heart connection, so even after all these years, I still remember him from that time.

My son, Wang Nan, who was 19 at the time of his death.

On that day, the Chinese military mercilessly opened fire on the many young people who were staging a sit-in in Tiananmen Square to demand democracy.

Tiananmen Square was engulfed in flames that day (June 4, 1989).

Among the many casualties was Zhang’s son. Zhang’s son was among the many dead and wounded, and she sometimes wept in front of his smiling remains.

“He was a very bright student who was interested in politics. I told him not to join the movement, but he said, ‘I’m going to do something good for the country. I told him not to join the movement, but he said, ‘I’m going to do something good for my country, for the progress of China,’ so he joined the movement and was killed by a bullet.

The students who participated in the movement were shot at.

According to Mr. Zhang, at the time of the incident, they were not allowed to take injured people to the hospital.

A citizen bleeding from a bullet wound in his back.

The deceased Mr. Wang was buried near the scene, but because he happened to be wearing a military belt, he was taken to the hospital and we were able to meet him.

A mob of citizens

“The memories will never fade. They are just etched in the deepest part of your mind, and you can’t forget them forever.”

Nine years ago, Ms. Zhang showed me a variety of her son’s belongings. The helmet he was wearing when he was shot, the words “Legislation, Democracy” written in his son’s handwriting, and a banner that read, “The people support you.

I was also impressed by his criticism of the Hu Jintao regime at the time.

The helmet his son was wearing had bullet holes in it.

The “silence” of the bereaved families and the National Security Law

In China, the National Security Law came into effect in 2020, making it illegal to criticize the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or advocate for Hong Kong’s independence in Hong Kong, and drastically restricting anti-government demonstrations and other gatherings.

The one country, two systems system has effectively collapsed, and Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law are being lost.

When I asked Mr. Zhang about Hong Kong’s similarity to the Tiananmen Square incident in terms of the “suppression of democracy,” his tone suddenly became heavy.

He didn’t say much about Hong Kong’s problems or the Xi Jinping regime.

“I don’t know much about what happened because I’m not in Hong Kong. I think it’s wise that the government didn’t turn the gun on us like they did in Tiananmen Square. I don’t watch TV now, and I don’t have much interest in it.”

Zhang’s cautious tone is probably due to the fact that the authorities are tightening their grip on Hong Kong, including the National Security Law, which has become a sensitive issue even within China.

If his critical comments were to come to the attention of the authorities, even in the foreign media, he would be concerned about his own safety.

When I asked him what he thought about the Xi Jinping administration, his answer was the same.

I don’t have much interest in [the Xi Jinping regime],” he said. The only thing I’m interested in is the Tiananmen Square incident, and I don’t know much about anything else.

The enthusiastic comments she made nine years ago have faded into obscurity, and in the way she speaks, choosing her words carefully, I felt I had caught a glimpse of the reality of China, where freedom is being further deprived under Xi Jinping.

Increasing Restrictions on Journalists

Tiananmen Square (June 4, 2021): No traces of the incident.

Nine years ago, Tiananmen Square was open to journalists, but now foreign journalists are not allowed inside. It is almost a daily occurrence for foreign media reporting on sensitive topics for China to have their TV footage blacked out or their Internet blocked.

When foreign media report on sensitive issues in China, the screen turns into a color bar.

When I visited her home again on June 3, 2021, the gate was only open enough for one person to pass through, and I was surrounded by a lot of security.

The day before the incident, Ms. Zhang’s house was heavily guarded and we were not allowed inside.

When I asked for an interview, I had to wait for about 20 minutes before I was politely refused, citing the new coronavirus infection control measures.

China’s presence in the world has increased to the point where it rivals that of the United States, but I realized that the Communist regime’s strict control of speech and thorough surveillance is intensifying, as if daring to oppose the demands of the international community.

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