June 4th follow-up

From the middle of my exams, a few final bullet points to wrap up June 4th – for those who aren’t fed up to the teeth with the whole umbrella-d business, that is.

  • I made no mention earlier of the atmosphere walking around the Beida campus on the big day itself. Well, it was an odd combination of edginess and nonchalance. The edginess came in the form of uniformed police officers circling campus on mopeds (but I only saw a couple, and there was no added security on the gates as far as I could tell). The nonchalance was the utter lack of anything for the police to be policing (despite or because of their presence is another debate – and one already purple with clicked links). I can’t quite make my mind up into which of the two categories the security personnel pictures below fit into: the pair of them were leisurely circling Beida’s infamous ‘triangle’ (the open space on campus where the 1989 students first gathering before moving downtown) all day on their pedal bikes. It was a beautiful summer day, and I would have enjoyed the exercise too.


  • To illustrate a point often made that the memory of June 4th is swiftly fading in China’s new generations: I happened to be having a coffee with Matilda that day. After a long chat about other things, I mentioned the occasion. Silence. Errr… blank look. I’m not helping. More awkward blank look. Finally: “Oh yes! I’d completely forgotten that was today”. The generation before, however, needs no jogging. Both my Chinese teacher and the teacher of a friend raised the topics themselves (in a one-on-one and in class respectively), and – albeit in couched terms and swiftly moving on – mentioned how excessive they felt the police action had been this time.
  • I just got this email*, in reaction to my earlier post, from the friend whose comments – along with Tony’s – I published in my post about the Sun Dongdong (non) protests:

Some distinguished scholars in China even told me that after one hundred years, people might compare [June 4th] and Deng [Xiaoping’s] reform and opening up with the Zhenguan reign in the Tang Dynasty. Remember both leaders made some tough decisions (they got their hands dirty but the situation forced them to do it that way in order to maintain the public good for the majority; try to understand it in an utilitarian way, too – for them, that is hard to accept but the true meaning of politics) but then initiated the most prosperous and open (comparatively speaking of course) times in Chinese history.

Right. Four anniversaries down, one to go. Then (whisper it) will Zhongnanhai finally tick the last stroke off on it’s giant red zheng and leave us all bloody f-ing alone?


* NB: with all the characters I follow on this blog, if they are speaking or writing to me in English I clean up any mistakes in their grammar and spelling before publishing. I’m careful not to change their meaning. Not necessary to mention, perhaps, but shoot me.