Wednesday, June 04, 2014
The Struggle in China Continues
I experience my version of the Theory of Relativity on a regular basis these days. When I read or hear of the anniversary of certain events I am sure that they took place much earlier. Others couldn't possibly be that long ago. The anniversary of the protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square is an example. Is it really twenty-five years ago that the growing demonstrations demanding certain freedoms culminated in the massacre of civilians in the square and elsewhere in the city? Hundreds of thousands assembled in the square, although many of us remember best the iconic photo of "tank man" the lone protestor in front of the powerful display of military might. While official estimates are between 200 and 300, it likely that 800 or more died. Here is a list of what the protestors sought:
1. Affirm as correct Hu Yaobang's (movement leader) views on democracy and freedom;
2. Admit that the campaigns against spiritual pollution and bourgeois liberalization had been wrong;
3. Publish information on the income of state leaders and their family members:
4. End the ban on privately run newspapers and stop press censorship;
5.Increase funding for education and raise intellectuals' pay;
6. End restrictions on demonstrations in Beijing;
7.Provide objective coverage of students in official media.
In other words, basic human rights.
What is sad and disturbing is that a quarter of a century later, not much has changed. In the rest of the world we have become addicted to inexpensive consumer goods from China, but the Chinese people still struggle to be heard or to be able to express opinions without fear of reprisal. And while the number of Christians has grown -- estimates are that there are now more Christians in China than the Canadian population -- there is still regular persecution of those who don't play by the rules of the government.
We can take this anniversary as a strong nudge to continue to hold the Chinese people and Chinese Christians in our prayers. It's hard to believe that any world government will stand up to the Chinese abuses of human rights, but we can always hope.
Do you remember Tiananmen Square? Did you assume that this was the beginning of positive change? Would it make any sense for our government to be more vocal about human rights in China?