1989 Tiananmen Square “Student Massacre” was a hoax
Updated: Mar 23
1989 Tiananmen Square “Student Massacre” was a hoax
In recent times, the words “Remember Tiananmen Square” have been evoked by both the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) and commentators like Bill Birtles and Nick McKenzie, and Nine-Fairfax Media and commentators like Peta Credlin and Andrew Bolt. It has become akin to saying “Remember the Alamo”. It’s become a slogan serving to remind us that we are dealing with an “evil empire” here.
But what if the so called “Tiananmen Square Student Massacre” never happened, or at least it didn’t happen in the way the mainstream media continues to portray it? The story that Chinese troops machine-gunned hundreds of innocent student protesters on the night of 3rd or 4th June 1989 has been thoroughly debunked by many of those present in the Square on those nights. Among them was a Chilean diplomat (Second Secretary), a Spanish TVE television crew, a correspondent for Reuters, and protesters themselves, all of who said nothing happened that night other than a military unit telling the remaining students to leave the Square; there was no student Massacre in Tiananmen Square. Similarly, a well-known Taiwan-born writer Hou Dejian, who had been on a hunger strike in the Square in show of solidarity with the students, said “Some people said that 200 died in the Square and others claimed that as many as 2,000 died. There were also stories of tanks running over students who were trying to leave. I have to say that I did not see any of that. I myself was in the Square until 6:30 in the morning.”
I have come across three very interesting articles that I have copied below. The first is a blog dated 2nd June 2019 posted on World Affairs website https://worldaffairs.blog/ titled “Tiananmen Square Massacre – Facts, Fiction and Propaganda”. The second is an article written by Gregory Clark, a former Australian diplomat, published in the Japanese Times back on 3rd June 2014 titled “What really happened at Tiananmen?” The third is a much older article by Long Xin Ming, titled “Let’s talk about Tiananmen Square, 1989: My hearsay is better than your hearsay”, which can be found at https://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2012/05/30/lets-talk-about-tiananmen-square-1989/ This article talks about a workers’ revolt that took place in Beijing at the same time that overlapped the fringe of the student protest outside of Tiananmen Square. This was a real and far more important event that was totally missed by Western journalists in Beijing, most of whom were hanging out in the Beijing Hotel at the time. (Most of the links attached to this article no longer connect. I suspect that this is due to the age of the article.)
It’s highly unlikely that our “front-line” soft power combatants employed by the ABC and Nine-Fairfax Media have not read these articles or similar articles, so they have either chosen to believe that all these witnesses and independent investigators are liars, or that they have all succumb to false memories, in which case no amount of evidence to the contrary will change these people’s mind. Alternatively, they do know the student “massacre” thesis is flawed, but they are determined to hold the line anyway — a modern day Deus hoc vult (the righteousness of their cause and the free world is on their side, so any means, including making up lies, justifies the ends). Either way, if you are looking for stories by independent journalists who report the facts accurately and fairly then the ABC and Nine-Fairfax Media are not the places to look, at least in regards to China.
Tiananmen Square Massacre – Facts, Fiction and Propaganda
“As far as can be determined from the available evidence, NO ONE DIED that night in Tiananmen Square.” What?! Who would make such a blatant propagandist claim? China’s communist party? Nope. It was Jay Mathews, who was Washington Post’s Beijing Bureau Chief in 1989. He wrote this for Columbia Journalism Review.
Here are a few more examples of what western journalists once said about what happened in Tiananmen Square in June 1989:
CBS NEWS: “We saw no bodies, injured people, ambulances or medical personnel — in short, nothing to even suggest, let alone prove, that a “massacre” had occurred in [Tiananmen Square]” — thus wrote CBS News reporter Richard Roth.
BBC NEWS: “I was one of the foreign journalists who witnessed the events that night. There was no massacre on Tiananmen Square” — BBC reporter, James Miles, wrote in 2009.
NY TIMES: In June 13, 1989, NY Times reporter Nicholas Kristof – who was in Beijing at that time – wrote, “State television has even shown film of students marching peacefully away from the [Tiananmen] square shortly after dawn as proof that they [protesters] were not slaughtered.” In that article, he also debunked an unidentified student protester who had claimed in a sensational article that Chinese soldiers with machine guns simply mowed down peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square.
REUTERS: Graham Earnshaw was in the Tiananmen Square on the night of June 3. He didn’t leave the square until the morning of June 4th. He wrote in his memoir that the military came, negotiated with the students and made everyone (including himself) leave peacefully; and that nobody died in the square.
But did people die in China? Yes, about 200-300 people died in clashes in various parts of Beijing, around June 4 — and about half of those who died were soldiers and cops.
WIKILEAKS: A Wikileaks cable from the US Embassy in Beijing (sent in July 1989) also reveals the eyewitness accounts of a Latin American diplomat and his wife: “They were able to enter and leave the [Tiananmen] square several times and were not harassed by troops. Remaining with students … until the final withdrawal, the diplomat said there were no mass shootings in the square or the monument.”
But what about the iconic “tank man”? Well, if you watch the whole video, you can see that the tanks stopped and even let the tank man jump on the tank. He eventually walked away unharmed. In fact, there are almost no pictures or videos of soldiers actually shooting at or killing people (doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but it’s a point to keep in mind).
Propaganda involves not only exaggeration, but also omission. Western media rarely show pictures of tanks and military vehicles burned down, because this will demonstrate how restrained the military was. Here’s a slideshow of military buses, trucks, armored vehicles, and tanks being burned by the “peaceful” protesters:
Sometimes the soldiers were allowed to escape, and sometimes they were brutally killed by the protesters. Numerous protesters were armed with Molotov cocktails and even guns.
In an article from June 5, 1989, the Wall Street Journal described some of this violence: “Dozens of soldiers were pulled from trucks, severely beaten and left for dead. At an intersection west of the square, the body of a young soldier, who had been beaten to death, was stripped naked and hung from the side of a bus.”
Wait, how could the protesters kill so many soldiers? Because, until the very end, Chinese soldiers were unarmed. Most of the times, they didn’t even have helmets or batons.
narmed Soldiers with protesters.
And here’s a video of the Chinese military and the protesters singing songs to one another in a friendly duel. This was the climate for many weeks. The Chinese government and most of the protesters never expected the situation to escalate.
So what exactly happened in Beijing in 1989?
To understand the chaos, let’s start with the two most important people in this story: Hu Yaobang and James Lilley.
Hu Yaobang was the Chairman & General Secretary of the CCP. He was a “reformer” and was liked by young people. And he died on April 15, 1989. Without his death, there would probably have been no drama in China that year! College students initially gathered at the Tiananmen Square only to mourn his death.
Within a day or two after Yaobang’s death, the US realized that hundreds of thousands of young people would be congregating in Beijing. It was the perfect time for a coup, since the rest of the world was dismantling communism that year! Thus, on April 20, 1989 – five days after Yaobang’s death – James Lilley was appointed as the US Ambassador to China. He was a 30-year veteran from the CIA.
An article from Vancouver Sun (17 Sep 1992) described the role of the CIA: “The Central Intelligence Agency had sources among [Tiananmen Square] protesters” … and “For months before [the protests], the CIA had been helping student activists form the anti-government movement.”
To help the US intelligence, there were two important people: George Soros and Zhao Ziyang. Soros is legendary for organizing grassroots movements around the world. In 1986, he had donated $1 million – which was a lot of money in China in those days – to the Fund for the Reform and Opening of China. Over the next three years, Soros’ group had cultivated and trained many pro-democracy student leaders, who would spring into action in 1989. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) also opened offices in China in 1988. NED is also another regime-change organization.
And who would allow all these western fake NGOs? Zhao Ziyang, who was the Premier of China and the General Secretary of the Communist Party. He was a big fan of privatization and Milton Friedman. His close advisor, Chen Yizi, headed China’s Institute for Economic and Structural Reform, an influential neoliberal think tank. By the way, after the protests, Soros and his NGO were banned in China; Zhao Ziyang was purged and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life; and Chen Yizi escaped to America.
Another westerner who played a significant role in the Tiananmen Square agitations is Gene Sharp, who’s the author of Color Revolution manuals and the subject of an acclaimed documentary called “How to Start a Revolution.” He was in Beijing for nine days during the protests and wrote about it. Of course, he didn’t reveal his role, but it’s not hard to imagine. Gene Sharp worked closely with the Pentagon, the CIA, NED etc. for decades and fomented uprisings all over the world — here’s an in-depth article on him.
The influence of westerners in Tiananmen Square is obvious, looking at all the large signs in English, expressing American ideals:
Two more facts to be noted are that the Chinese government did not impose a martial law until May 20, and there were no major clashes between the military and the people until the very end. Here’s a picture of protesters giving food to the Chinese soldiers:
As for the students, they were not a monolithic group. They fell under a few different categories:
- Those who suffered from economic malaise. Inflation was going through the roof in China in the 1980s. In 1988, prices of consumer goods and food went up 26%. College tuition was also going up, and many graduates couldn’t find good jobs. Ironically, all these were the result of liberalization and rapid transition to western-style economy.
- Idealistic young people who really wanted democracy, free speech, free press etc.
- Student leaders who were unscrupulous. Most top student leaders escaped from China – the CIA called it “Operation YellowBird” – right after the protests, came to the US, and went to Yale, Harvard, Princeton etc., thanks to generous help from the US government.
- Provocateurs and thugs who were in the minority, but could significantly escalate tension. This strategy based on mob-rule psychology works very effectively all over the world. Very few people, for example, realize that some of these provocateurs also had guns.
One of the student leaders of Tiananmen protests, Chai Ling, said during an interview, “I wanted to tell them [students] that we were expecting bloodshed, that it would take a massacre, which would spill blood like a river through Tiananmen Square, to awaken the people. But how could I tell them this? How could I tell them that their lives would have to be sacrificed in order to win?” She escaped from China a couple of days before June 4, 1989.
A massacre was needed to bring down the communist party. When it didn’t happen, the narrative of massacre was created. Because perception is reality. History is written by winners. And the people with the best narratives are winners. It’s a feedback loop.
China’s leaders may not be very good in the art of soft-power, but they understand that the Chinese history in the last two hundred years is filled with devastation from colonialism and civil wars. Stability and unity are not only core Confucian principles, but are paramount to China’s economic progress now. Furthermore, the geopolitical reality is that the US is trying to stop the rise of China. The propaganda about Tiananmen “massacre” only reinforces the Chinese government’s fear about the West’s intentions.
Will China be better off with free speech, free press and more transparency? Absolutely. However, that’s a journey that the Chinese society has to take in its own terms. Only China can decide the speed and direction of its reforms. While the Tiananmen events are tragic, there’s no doubt that the Chinese people appreciate the incredible progress the country has made since 1989.
What really happened at Tiananmen?
By Gregory Clark
The Japanese Times 3 June 2014
Over the years the “black information” people in the U.S. and U.K. governments have had some spectacular successes — the myth that the Vietnam War was due to Beijing using Hanoi as a puppet to head its advance into Asia, that Iraq harboured weapons of mass destruction, that Kosovar ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo was in fact Serbian ethnic cleansing of Kosovars, and now the claims that Moscow was responsible for the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine. But the greatest achievement of them all still has to be the myth of a June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre, with talk of hundreds if not thousands of protesting students mowed down by military machine guns.
In recent years the Tiananmen massacre story has taken something of a beating as people in the square that night, including a Spanish TV unit, have emerged to tell us that there was no massacre, that the only thing they saw was a military unit entering in the late evening and asking the several hundred students still there quietly to leave. So the “massacre” location has been moved to the streets around the square, and with the 25th anniversary of the event coming up we see the “unprovoked massacre” story being used for yet another round of Beijing bashing.
And the facts? Fortunately we have the detailed hourly reports from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, available on the Internet, to give us the true story.
Yes, there was something close to a massacre in those streets, with some of the units originally sent to clear the square of students turning their guns wildly on the crowds that had tried to block their approach. And to find out why the soldiers did such an atrocious thing we do not have to look much beyond those widely publicized photos of military buses in rows being set on fire by those protesting crowds.
To date the world seems to have assumed that those buses were fired by the crowds after the soldiers had started shooting. In fact it was the reverse — that the crowds attacked the buses as they entered Beijing, incinerating dozens of soldiers inside, and only then did the shooting begin. Here too we do need not go far to find the evidence — in the not publicized photos of soldiers with horrible burns seeking shelter in nearby houses, and reports of charred corpses being strung from overpasses.
True, the crowds had had their reasons for protesting. I travelled extensively in China in the early 1970s, soon after Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution movement was launched.
I saw firsthand the grotesque and insane abuse to which the entire nation had been subjected. If I had been a Chinese student or citizen in those days, I would have been among the protesters, even as late as 1989.
The regime seemed to realize this, which is why it tolerated the student protest in the square for six weeks despite the enormous loss of face and inconvenience. Its party secretary general even tried to negotiate. It only moved to take back the square after the negotiation failed and the students were beginning to disperse.
But by this time the crowds around the square were both large and ominous. The embassy reports note that the regime’s first move was to send in unarmed troops using the subways and easily blocked by the crowds. Armed troops were then sent in with the results we know. But even then only some of the units went berserk (soldiers tend to go that way when some of the comrades are barbecued: Ask the citizens of Fallujah, Iraq). Other units tried to restrain them. And the action was outside, not inside, the square.
So whence the machine-gun massacre claim? Here too we do not have to look far — to a story a week later in a pro-British, English-language Hong Kong newspaper written under the name of an alleged student demonstrator claiming to have fled China, but whom no one has been able to find. Front-paged by The New York Times on June 12, it quickly travelled the globe, and we have been living with it in one form or another ever since. Not a single Western reporter in Beijing that night seems to have bothered to check out what actually happened; presumably they found a much wider audience for their stories of blood and gore.
Fortunately in addition to the U.S. Embassy reports we now have a detailed 1998 study by the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Reporting the Myth of Tiananmen and the Price of a Passive Press” that tracks down “the dramatic reports that buttressed the myth of a student massacre.”
Right from the beginning we should have had our doubts about the “massacre” stories.
Why would a Beijing regime under Deng Xiaoping seeking reform in so many areas of Chinese society want so deliberately and viciously to attack harmless students, who traditionally have led the reform movements in China — which many pro-Communist leaders had joined in the past?
If one has to fault the regime it is in the failure to train troops in crowd control — a mistake that even hard-line regime members later admitted. Ironically their later effort to import crowd control equipment was blocked by the United Kingdom acting under the Western arms embargo imposed as a result of the fictitious machine-gun massacre report that their own black information people had almost certainly helped create.
Other strange details later to emerge included a report that Reuters, the British new agency, refused to publish a photo of a charred corpse strung up under an overpass — a photo that would have done much to explain what had happened. And we now discover that the widely distributed photo of Tankman — the lone student standing before a row of army tanks and heavily publicised as showing brave defiance against a cruel regime — was in fact taken the day after Tiananmen events, and the tanks were moving away from, and not into, Tiananmen Square.
Some have noted the frustration a student leader calling for blood in the streets as the prolonged square protest was winding down with no seeming result. And some have asked how those protesters came to use gasoline bombs against the troops — a weapon not used by Chinese rioters — and why so many vehicles came to be destroyed. This in turn could explain the regime’s anger, and its subsequent efforts to track down and punish student leaders. But even without these details it should be clear that the so-called Tiananmen Square Massacre was not quite the clear-cut evil of much Western imagination.
Gregory Clark, a former Australian diplomat, speaks Chinese and is a long-term resident of Japan. A Japanese translation of this article will appear on www.gregoryclark.net
Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989: My Hearsay is Better Than Your Hearsay
龙信明 | Friday, October 7, 2011, 18:31 Beijing
(Propaganda in the Western press had a lasting impact on China. For the Tiananmen Protest of 1989, the “reform and opening up” policies under Deng back-stepped when Western governments decided to scale back loans and FDI into China on the grounds the Chinese government were ‘butchers.’ The ‘butcher’ and ‘massacre’ narratives were concocted by the Western press to demonize the Chinese government (an on-going trend, by the way; see collective defamation). Through Wikileaks, we now know the U.S. government knew then what were the actual truth and confirmed China’s version of the event. The Western press lied all along, as the following excellent analysis by 龙信明 (original, here) pieces together how they systematically distorted truth to defame. Warning: some graphic images of burnt bodies.)
Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989 My Hearsay is Better Than Your Hearsay
There are few places in China that seem more burned into the consciousness of typical Westerners than Tiananmen Square, and few events more commonly mentioned than the student protests there of 1989.
One blogger recently noted that “It must be June. Tiananmen Square is being trotted out again.” And that would seem to be true. Most of the Western media choose to promote a kind of “anniversary story” of this event, partly creating news by resurrecting an apparently dramatic event, and partly with perhaps some less high-minded purposes.
Tiananmen Square in Beijing as it looks today.
In any case, the stories persist, and perhaps it’s because they provide a kind of subversive consolation that leaves us feeling grateful for the superiority of our advanced societies.
Perhaps it leaves us firm in the knowledge (or at least the conviction) that “such things don’t happen here”.
It will be a surprise to many readers to learn that “such things” didn’t happen in China, either.
It is true that in 1989 China experienced a student protest that culminated in a sit-in (more like a camp-in, actually) in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
But thanks to Wikileaks and other (perhaps brave) Western journalists, we now know that this was all the Square experienced that day.
We now have conclusive and overwhelming documentation that the events in Beijing in 1989 were very different from those reported in the Western press. Not only that, we have substantial evidence that the Chinese Government’s version of these events had been true all along.
That story is our subject here. In one sense, it is not an easy story to relate because of the unfortunate emotional baggage Tiananmen Square has carried for more than two decades, and because both China and these events tend to become overwhelmed by ideology.
Where Do We Start? Why not the Beginning?
Let’s enter this ideology classroom and begin by posting on the blackboard some facts that are not in dispute. First among them would be that I was not in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. And neither were you. Hence the subtitle of this editorial. We are both depending on hearsay, on what we have read, on what we have been told and, more importantly, on what we have chosen to believe.
This leads us to another fact that is not in dispute – this one being that you don’t “know” what happened in Tiananmen Square. It’s true you can make the same claim about me, but right now we’re talking about you.
You have no personal knowledge of the events of that day. You don’t know what happened, because you weren’t there. Everything you have is hearsay. You may have watched the news on that day or read newspaper articles, but it’s unlikely you have ever met anyone who was actually present and could give you a first-hand account of events.
And, from whatever information you’ve acquired, you will have chosen to “take sides”. If you’re a Westerner, you have most likely chosen to believe that many terrible things happened that day.
But to do this properly, let’s separate your choice to take sides from your hearsay evidence – which as you are aware, would anyway be totally inadmissible in a court of law. Even in your country.
So, on your side of the fence, we have two factors:
(1) I read and heard about a bunch of really bad stuff that happened that day.
(2) I choose to believe that those things were true.
We’re going to deal with the first of these. You can do what you want with the second. The first is hearsay evidence that can at least be examined and compared with other sources and an assessment made of credibility. The second is founded on ideology, and ideological debates have no resolution so we won’t waste our time there.
What Do We Know For Sure?
Well, one thing we know, though it wasn’t widely reported at the time, is that there were two events that occurred in Beijing on June 4, 1989. They were not related.
One was a student protest that involved a sit-in in Tiananmen Square by several thousand university students, and which had lasted for several weeks, finally terminating on June 4.
The other was a worker protest, the origin and detail of which are unimportant for our purposes. But essentially some number of workers were unhappy with their lot in life and with the amount of government attention and support, or lack thereof, which they were receiving. And they arranged their own protest, independently of anything related to the students.
Since these two events occurred simultaneously, and were conflated in the Western mass media reporting of the time, we will have to deal with these simultaneously as well.
The Student Protest
The students and soldiers in Tiananmen Square had no quarrel with each other that day.
Briefly, the students congregated in the Square and were waiting for an opportunity to present various petitions to the government, petitions dealing with government, social policy, idealism.
In fact, all the things that we as students all had on our list of changes we wanted to make in the world.
Since the government did not immediately respond, the students camped in the square and waited.
They brought food, water, tents, blankets, camp stoves – but no toilets. Tiananmen Square, after three weeks, was not a place for the faint of nose.
The government waited patiently enough during that period, but finally gave the students a deadline for evacuation of the Square – June 4.
Soldiers were sent to the Square on the day prior, but these soldiers were carrying no weapons and by all documented reports (including those of the US Embassy in Beijing, thanks to Wikileaks) had only billy sticks.
By all reports, there was no animosity between the students and the soldiers. Neither had a philosophical dispute with the other, nor did they see each other as enemies. In fact, both photos and reports show that the students were protecting the soldiers who were being chased by angry mobs of uninvolved bystanders. You will see some photos later.
The Workers Revolt
These are not students. You can see the burned-out buses in the background. Today, these rioters would be deemed “terrorists”.
One fact not in dispute is that a group of workers had barricaded streets in several locations leading to Central Beijing, several kilometres from the city centre and also from the Square.
Another fact not in dispute is that several hundreds of people – most of whom were workers, but of whom an undetermined few were students – attended these barricades.
An additional fact is that there was a third group present that to my knowledge has never been clearly identified but which consisted of neither students nor workers.
“Thugs” or “anarchists” might be an appropriate adjective, but adjectives don’t help the identification.
To deal with this problem, the government sent in busloads of troops, accompanied by a few APCs – armoured personnel carriers, to clear the barricades and re-open the streets to traffic.
Outside a bus, the body of a soldier burned to death by the rioters.
The violence began when this third group decided to attack the soldiers. They were apparently well-prepared, having come armed with Molotov cocktails, and torched several dozen buses – with the soldiers still inside.
They also torched the APCs. You can see the photos. There were many more.
Many soldiers in both types of vehicles escaped, but others did not, and many soldiers burned to death. I personally recall watching the news and seeing the videos of dead soldiers burned to a crisp, one hung by the thugs from a lamppost, others lying in the street or on stairs or sidewalks where they died.
Others were hanging out of the bus windows or the APCs, having only partially escaped before being overcome by the flames.
There are documented reports to tell us that the group of thugs managed to get control of one APC, and drove it through the streets while firing the machine guns on the turret.
That was when the government sent in the tanks and opened fire on these protesters.
Another soldier burned to a crisp. Note the other dead soldier hanging from the flyover.
Government reports and independent media personnel generally claim that a total of 250 to 300 people died in total before the violence subsided.
Many of those dead were soldiers. There was no “massacre” in any sense that this world could be sensibly used.
When police or military are attacked in this way, they will surely use force to defend themselves and cannot be faulted for that.
If you or I were the military commander on the scene and were watching our men being attacked and burned to death, we would have done the same.
From everything I know, I can find no fault here.
We can let ideology interfere with interpretation, and claim that the Chinese military used “excessive force”, even in self-defence, but that seems a useless claim. In a number of recent cases in the US, a dozen or more police fired 50, and in one case in Miami, more than 100, bullets into an unarmed man, with the courts later claiming this “was not an excessive use of force”. So let’s be fair and tar everyone with the same brush.
And in any case, soldiers were being attacked by a violent mob, (today, we call them “terrorists”) and were dying horrible deaths. We cannot blame the remaining soldiers for opening fire and killing those who were killing them. And yes, several hundred people died in that event.
A Live, First-Hand Report
Here is an eyewitness report from someone who was there, an excerpt from Tiananmen Moon:
“There was a new element I hadn’t noticed much of before, young punks decidedly less than student-like in appearance. In the place of headbands and signed shirts with university pins they wore cheap, ill-fitting polyester clothes and loose windbreakers. Under our lights, their eyes gleaming with mischief, they brazenly revealed hidden Molotov cocktails.”
Who were these punks in shorts and sandals, carrying petrol bombs? Gasoline is tightly rationed, so they could not have come up with these things spontaneously. Who taught them to make bottle bombs and for whom were the incendiary devices intended?
Editor’s Note: As with the student supplies, the Coleman gas stoves, the manuals, instructions, training, strategy and tactics, the logistics and many other elements, there is little question the providers were not domestic Chinese.
Another soldier burned to death, hanging by a cable from the burned-out bus.
Someone shouted that another APC was heading our way. My pace quickened as I approached the stalled vehicle, infected by the toxic glee of the mob, but then I caught myself.
Why was I rushing towards trouble? Because everyone else was? I slowed down to a trot in the wake of a thundering herd of one mass mind. Breaking with the pack, I stopped running.
Someone tossed a Molotov cocktail, setting the APC on fire. Flames spread quickly over the top of the vehicle and spilled onto the pavement. I thought, there’s somebody still inside of that, it’s not just a machine! There must be people inside.
The throng roared victoriously and moved in closer, enraged faces illuminated in the orange glow. But wait! I thought, there’s somebody still inside of that, it’s not just a machine!
There must be people inside. This is not man against dinosaur, but man against man!
Someone protectively pulled me away to join a handful of head-banded students who sought to exert some control. Expending what little moral capital his hunger strike signature saturated shirt still exerted, he spoke up for the soldier.
“Let the man out,” he cried. “Help the soldier, help him get out!” The agitated congregation was in no mood for mercy. Angry, blood-curdling voices ricocheted around us. “Kill the mother fucker!” one said.
Then another voice, even more chilling than the first screamed, “He is not human, he is a thing.” “Kill it, kill it!” shouted bystanders, bloody enthusiasm now whipped up to a high pitch.
“Stop! Don’t hurt him!” Meng pleaded, leaving me behind as he tried to reason with the vigilantes. “Stop, he is just a soldier!”
He is not human, kill him, kill him!” said a voice. “Get back, get back!” someone screamed at the top of his lungs. “Leave him alone, the soldiers are not our enemy!”
After the limp bodies of the soldiers were put into an ambulance, the thugs attacked the ambulance, almost ripping off the rear doors in an attempt to remove the burned soldier and finish him off. After that, charred bodies of soldiers were hung from a lamp post, and a large amount of ammunition was taken from the APC.
From a Chinese Government Report on the Worker’s Riot
Rioters blocked military and other vehicles before they smashed and burned them. They also seized guns, ammunition and transceivers. Several rioters seized an armoured car and fired its guns as they drove it along the street. Rioters also assaulted civilian installations and public buildings. Several rioters even drove a public bus loaded with gasoline drums towards the Tiananmen gate-tower in an attempt to set fire to it.
When a military vehicle suddenly broke down on Chang’An Avenue, rioters surrounded it and crushed the driver with bricks. The rioters savagely beat and killed many soldiers and officers. At Chongwenmen, a soldier was thrown down from the flyover and burned alive. At Fuchengmen, a soldier’s body was hung upside down on the overpass balustrade after he had been killed. Near a cinema, an officer was beaten to death, and his body strung up on a burning bus.
Over 1,280 vehicles were burned or damaged in the rebellion, including over 1,000 military trucks, more than 60 armoured cars, over 30 police cars, over 120 public buses and trolley buses and over 70 motor vehicles of other kinds.
The martial law troops, having suffered heavy casualties before being forced to fire into the air to clear the way forward. During the counter-attack, some rioters were killed, some onlookers were hit by stray bullets and some wounded or killed by armed ruffians. According to reliable statistics, more than 3,000 civilians were wounded and over 200, including 36 college students, were killed. As well, more than 6,000 law officers and soldiers were injured and scores of them killed.
Back to the Students
Students link arms to hold back angry crowds from chasing a group of retreating soldiers. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Avery
The gunfire could be heard in the distance from Tiananmen Square, but there were no credible reports of gunfire from within the Square itself.
And in any case, as mentioned above, the soldiers in the Square were not armed. They were sent to keep order, not to kill young people who were totally non-violent themselves.
The reports tell us discussions were held between the students and the soldiers at repeated times during the evening and throughout the night.
Almost all of the students were persuaded to leave the Square during the evening, and the small remainder left the following morning.
There is overwhelming documented evidence that no violence occurred in the Square, that no students were killed, and that there never was any “Tiananmen Square Massacre”.
There were reports of sporadic gunfire later the following morning around the perimeter of the square, but that was after all the students had already left, and the cause of that gunfire has not been determined.
Tanks and bulldozers did enter the Square the following morning, flattening all the tents and rubbish that had piled up during the previous three weeks, pushing the garbage into huge piles and setting them afire. This was the apparent origin of claims that “thousands of students” were crushed by tanks streaming through the Square, but this was just the clean-up crew and the students were long gone when the tanks and other heavy machinery arrived.
From a Chinese Government Report on the Student Sit-in
At 1:30 AM on June 4, the Beijing municipal government and the martial law headquarters issued an emergency notice asking all students and other citizens to leave Tiananmen Square. The notice was broadcast repeatedly for well over three hours over loudspeakers. The students in the Square, after discussion among themselves, sent representatives to the troops to express their willingness to withdraw from the square and this was approved by the troops.
At about 5 AM several thousand students left the square in an orderly manner through a wide corridor in the south-eastern part of the square vacated by the troops, carrying their own banners and streamers. Those who refused to leave were forced to do so by the soldiers. By 5:30 a.m., the clearing operation of the square had been completed. During the whole operation not a single person was killed.
But What About All the Rumours, the News Reports?
There were in fact news reports at the time, confirming that there never was any “Tiananmen Square Massacre”, no “crackdown”, and that no students died. One of these was written by Nicholas Kristoff of the NYT, but the Times buried his report on an inside page and instead ran with the more exciting front-page version of tanks crushing thousands of students and gunfire killing thousands more.
Many foreign reporters filed live reports directly from the Square, stating clearly that, while gunfire could be heard in the distance, there was no violence in the Square either by or toward the students. All reports from the Square were that the event ended peacefully.
However, there was a large group of foreign (mostly US) journalists reporting “live from the Beijing hotel”, and describing the view through their windows of all the gunfire, the deaths, the piles of student bodies. Unfortunately, and as other foreign reporters pointed out later, Tiananmen Square cannot be seen from the Beijing Hotel.
Those live reports were fabricated by journalists who apparently believed something was happening, lacked the courage to go and see for themselves, and who told their editors the most likely events according to their convictions and imaginations.
Fabricating facts and sensationalising events. It attracts viewers, sells advertising, and fits in well with the agenda. Truth is apparently dispensable.
CNN’s Mike Chinoy at the time played a “tape” of sporadic gunfire which was edited and condensed to a few seconds to give the impression that it was rapid and continuous.
Many reporters and journalists, including Spain’s TV channel that had a film crew in the Square for the entire event, have all denied the veracity of the reports of gunfire, violence and student deaths in Tiananmen Square.
In a well-researched 1998 article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Reporting the Myth of Tiananmen and the Price of a Passive Press,” the former Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing, Jay Mathews, tracks down what he calls the dramatic accounts that buttressed the myth of a student massacre. According to him:
“A USA Today article (June 26, page 7A) called Tiananmen the place “where pro-democracy demonstrators were gunned down.” The Wall Street Journal (June 26, page A10) described “the Tiananmen Square massacre” where armed troops ordered to clear demonstrators from the square killed “hundreds or more.” The New York Post (June 25, page 22) said the square was “the site of the student slaughter.”
“The problem is this: as far as can be determined from the available evidence, no one died that night in Tiananmen Square. A few people may have been killed by random shooting on streets near the square, but all verified eyewitness accounts say that the students who remained in the square when troops arrived were allowed to leave peacefully. (Some people), most of them workers and passers-by, did die that night, but in a different place and under different circumstances.”
You can read this excellent article titled “The Myth of Tiananmen: And the Price of a Passive Press”: Click Here.
He notes a widely disseminated piece by an alleged Chinese university student writing in the Hong Kong press immediately after the incident, describing machine guns mowing down students in front of the square monument (somehow Reuter’s Earnshaw chatting quietly with the students in front of the same monument failed to notice this.)
Mathews adds: “The New York Times gave this version prominent display June 12, just a week after the event, but no evidence was ever found to confirm the account or verify the existence of the alleged witness. And for good reason, I suspect. The mystery report was very likely the work of U.S. and British black information authorities ever keen to plant anti-Beijing stories in unsuspecting media.”
Earnshaw notes how a photo of a Chinese soldier strung up and burned to a crisp was withheld by Reuters. Dramatic Chinese photos of solders incinerated or hung from overpasses have yet to be shown by Western media. Photos of several dead students on a bicycle rack at the barricade are more convincing.
Here is a link to an article on this site, titled “Birth of a Massacre Myth: How the West Manufactured an Event that Never Occurred”. It contains much detailed information on the source of the rumours and false claims. You can Click Here.
They All Knew at the Time That the Reports Were not True
In addition, and I must say, to the great surprise of many of us, the US government, the NYT and all the US and foreign media, knew at the time that there was never any student massacre in Tiananmen Square. The reason we now know this truth is Wikileaks, who published all the cables sent from the US embassy in Beijing to Washington that night, confirming that there was no violence in the Square and no massacre of anybody.
But that knowledge didn’t prevent the US and other Right-Wing governments, dozens of US, UK, German, Canadian, Australian politicians, and all the Right-Wing media, from repeating this story endlessly for more than 20 years. In fact, the NYT features an annual “celebration” of its version of the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” in what can only be a deliberate and persistent attempt to perpetuate the fraud.
For all those years, the NYT and others knew the story was a lie, but they repeated it nonetheless. And not simply “newspapers” or TV stations, but the individuals doing the writing and reporting, all knew, or had to know, the stories were a lie.
Here is a link to another article titled “US Embassy confirms China’s version of Tiananmen Square events: Cables obtained by Wikileaks confirm China’s account”. To read it, you can Click Here.
For a short period, the Western media downgraded the 1989 student protests in Beijing from The Tiananmen Square Massacre to The Beijing Incident. But then, despite this knowledge, the media have once again started to impart conspiracy and horror into Tiananmen Square and characterize it as a massacre of students.
This falsification of history, which appears deliberate since the facts have become well known, deludes a new generation and prejudices it against China. The distortion of the happenings within Tiananmen Square reduces the media’s credibility and leaves its open to charges of grossly misrepresenting significant current events for cheap political gain.
And as Always, Thank You, America.
It seems plausible that the student protests in China during the late 1980s may, at their origin, have been spontaneously generated, but there is no shortage of evidence – facts not in dispute – that the entire student movement was quickly hijacked by the US.
It’s always the same. Whenever we find destabilisation, upheaval, discontent, an opportunity for chaos, we will always find the CIA. Thank you, America.
There is little reason to question the assertation that a major part of US foreign policy then, as today, lay in attempts to destabilise China and perhaps instigate a massive revolution that would open the door to US influence and control.
The student democracy movement was a large part of that strategy. And, though evidence is thin, it begins to appear that the worker’s revolt may also have had “outside help”.
For one, gasoline was rationed and not easily available. And who provided the training and organisation, the instructions for the Molotov cocktails – which were unheard of in China before that time.
Many of the students with whom I spoke, who were actually present at the Square, have told me of the supplies provided for them through some agency of the US government.
They particularly mentioned the countless hundreds of Coleman camp stoves – which at the time were far too expensive for students in China to acquire – and the well-established supply lines of these and other items.
And all university students of that day will tell you of the influence of the VOA – the Voice of America – and the picture it painted of “freedom and democracy”.
They tell of listening to the VOA in their dorms, late into the night, building in their imaginations a happy world of freedom and light.
The Voice of America. “The world’s most trusted source for news and information from the United States and around the world.”
They will also tell you that the VOA was broadcasting to the students 24 hours a day from their Hong Kong station during the weeks of the sit-in at Tiananmen Square, offering comfort and encouragement, provoking, giving advice on strategy and tactics.
And, in a much more dangerous and mean-spirited fashion, asking rhetorical questions that would almost surely lead young students to the wrong conclusions and incite them to inappropriate (and perhaps even fatal) actions.
One of the original participants in the student sit-in recently made this post:
“We settled down and continued with our study. We dated, found our loved ones, and many sought to go abroad. By the time we graduated there was almost no discussion about the student movement and we no longer listened to the VOA.”
“One thing I have been kept thinking was the role of the VOA. Many students were the fans of the radio station before, during and shortly after the student movement. Even when we were on the square many students were listening to their programs as if only they could tell us what was going on.
I remember at one stage it said the PLA stationed in Beijing was in a defensive position and then it asked some questions such as “Who are they waiting for and why are they in a defensive position?” I immediately drew a conclusion that there was a rebelling PLA force coming to support us!! Until I double checked with my cousin I realized how stupid I was to draw that conclusion.”
In case you don’t know, the VOA is funded and operated by the NED – the National Endowment for Democracy – which is a front company funded by the CIA that does much of that agency’s dirty work not involving actual killing – although sometimes it does that, too. The NED was founded as a vehicle to avoid the CIA’s increasingly bad reputation.
Allen Weintein, one of the founders of the NED explained to the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.” And like the CIA and USAID, the NED and a number of similar organizations – including the VOA – receive funding from the US Congress.
In the end, the students abandoned not only the Square, but both their revolutionary imaginations and the VOA as well.
The irony is the imminent death of Voice of America, as far as China is concerned. The US has finally realised the futility of broadcasting propaganda into China and this year (2011) the Obama Administration is planning to shut down VOA broadcasts from Hong Kong.
And not before time.
Revolutions Need Leaders. Who Were They, and Where are They?
John Pomfret, at the time an AP correspondent in Beiiing with a point of view. Now a reporter for the Washington Post.
There were five or six primary leaders of the Tianamen Square sit-in, those who led the organisation of students in universities across the country, who planned the demonstration in the Square and who pushed hard for a “death before retreat” martyrdom attitude in the students.
However, these leaders sensibly chose a “retreat before death” policy for themselves.
They were spirited out of China, first to Hong Kong, then to Taiwan. And very shortly thereafter were in the US.
Some chose intermediate countries and some didn’t. In those days, travel to Hong Kong was not quick and easy as today, so some clever logistics were necessary on the part of their handlers.
Several of these “student leaders” appear to have been rewarded handsomely for their efforts to destabilise their country, with prestigious university degrees, good jobs, and sometimes CIA (NED) salaries for simply continuing to protest.
The “general commander” of the student protesters, Chai Ling fled China after completing her handiwork in Tiananmen Square. As a reward by the US for her destabilisation efforts in China she was given an honorary degree in political science from Princeton university and a job with the management consultancy of Bain & Co.
She has since converted to Christianity and spends her time with a so-called “charity”, funded by the CIA-controlled NED, called “All Girls Allowed”, as a forum to complain about China’s one-child policy.
China has stated that a recision of the one-child policy would result in an additional 300 million births within a decade. Ms. Chai Ling informs us that if China rescinds this policy, she will undertake to provide, at CIA and NED expense, the full cost of not only feeding and clothing these 300 million extra children, but also providing for their education and health care as well.
No greater love has one for her fellow man than …
Alan Pessin, bearded Voice of America correspondent in Beijing. Ignored the martial law restrictions and continued to contact the ringleaders to pass on information, providing both instigation and asylum while dispatching many distorted and false reports.
After the protests, Wu’er Kaixi fled first to France and then to the US where the government rewarded him with a free pass to Harvard university.
This man was one of the contributors to the stories of student deaths in Tiananmen Square, claiming to have seen hundreds (or thousands) of students mowed down with machine guns.
He was quickly discredited by foreign journalists who confirmed that he was seen on the far side of Beijing at the time he claimed to have witnessed events in the square.
Hou Dejian was a Taiwanese singer who joined the protests in Tiananmen Square and then helped to broker the truce which allowed students in the square to evacuate safely. He was subsequently deported back to Taiwan and now writes screenplays in New Zealand.
According to A Government Report:
ln violation of the martial law decrees operative in parts of Beijing. John E. Pomfret. an AP correspondent in Beijing, kept frequent contact with the ringleaders, passing on information and providing asylum. The photo shows John E. Pomfret (middle) and Wang Dan (first left) together.
Alan W. Pessin, a correspondent of the Voice of America in Beijing, ignored the martial law restrictions and not only continued illegal VOA news coverage, but dispatched distorted reports and spread further rumours inciting turmoil and rebellion. The Photo shows Alan Pessin (with the beard) hiding himself among the crowd.
After the Government declared martial law, Chai Ling and the protest organizers were still distributing leaflets inciting armed rebellion against the Government, calling upon their followers to “organize armed forces and oppose the Communist Party and its government”, even making a list of names of people they wanted to eliminate. They claimed they would never yield and “would fight to the finish” with the government, scheming until past the end, to provoke a bloody incident in Tiananmen Square.
Back to the Hearsay
Just so it doesn’t go unsaid, I believe my hearsay is better than your hearsay. I live in China and, by a happy accident of fate, have access to, and constant contact with, many hundreds of people who were university students in China during the period in question. I’ve spoken to more than a few of them at length about the events in Tiananmen Square, and they confirm my comments and the content of the articles linked above.
When we began this exercise, we had two factors on your side of the fence:
(1) I read and heard about a bunch of really bad stuff that happened that day.
(2) I choose to believe that those things were true.
I’ve tried to deal with the first of these, with the presentation of a small part of the (by now) huge volume of evidence confirming that nothing other than a student protest occurred in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. You can still do what you want with the second part – your own ideology. You will believe what you will.
It has been 22 years since the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen incident. While the Western media has over the years toned down this ‘massacre’ myth, they are still using vague language to keep the ‘massacre’ narrative alive. For example, even NPR’s recent anniversary piece echoed an Associated Press article, described it as “the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.”
Now that Wikileaks and other documentation have confirmed what the Chinese government has always said – that no massacre occurred at the Square – the NYT, the UK Telegraph and other Western media are instead spinning this as, “the soldiers fired upon the protesters OUTSIDE of the Square”.
With declassified U.S. government documents and other Westerner accounts, Gregory Clark in his well researched 2008 article published in the Japan Times, “Birth of a massacre myth,” explained how the New York Times and other Western media were still pushing that narrative despite all evidence concluding otherwise.
Recent Wikileaked U.S. embassy cables also showed the U.S. government knew there was no bloodshed in Tiananmen Square. Apparently, condemning China is okay while lying along with the media.
Westerners are hopelessly trapped in a view of the world constructed for them by their media. As Martin Jacques said, the West have not had to understand the developing world, because they have the might to not care. The hard truth for the Chinese from this tragedy is that progress comes from stability.
With Tunisia, Egypt, and other Arab states in turmoil, the Western media have been keen to play up a possible ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China. I can see people like Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times or the BBC journalist who got dragged away from Wangfujing think their careers will be catapulted into the stratosphere if indeed a 1989-scale protest breaks out in China.
Or for people like Jon Huntsman, an opportunity to position himself in the midst of it to maximize his credentials back home for his 2012 ambitions.
Above comments extracted from an editorial at Hidden Harmonies
Some Excellent Reading: More Information, Sources, Documentation
June Fourth, 1989: Another Look (From Hidden Harmonies) Read Here.
Birth of a Massacre Myth: How the West Manufactured an Event that Never Occurred Read Here.
The Myth of Tiananmen: And the Price of a Passive Press Read Here.
US Embassy confirms China’s version of Tiananmen Square events: Wikileaks Cables confirm China Government’s account Read Here.
Tiananmen Square protesters: where are they now?: Benefitting from CIA Financing Read Here.
UK Telegraph article “No Bloodshed in Tiananmen Square” Original Article.
Originally Published on Critical Social Work Publishing House
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly