June 4, he had a hunger strike for life, died young and clear character unforgettable -The fragrance of the past is as good as the past – Tang Xiaohui, a student of the National People’s Congress in Quanzhou

Tang Xiaohui, a student of the National People’s Congress of China

Tang Xiaohui (a student of NPC Quanzhou)

May 13 is a normal day, but for many people who came here in 1989, it is a day that will never be forgotten. On that day, a group of students from Beijing universities launched a hunger strike to Tiananmen Square to petition the Chinese Communist Party for dialogue, bringing the 1989 patriotic democratic movement to a new stage. And how many of those who participated in that hunger strike died, how many were disabled, and how many are struggling with illnesses to this day, deserves the world’s attention!


One day, I was traveling to Guilin in a friend’s car, chatting about various anecdotes on the way to amuse myself. Suddenly, my friend asked me if I recognized a student from Quanzhou named Tang Xiaohui during my studies in Beijing. I turned over my stomach and could not find this name in my memory. Then my friend recalled with worry: Tang Xiaohui, graduated from the economics department of Renmin University of China in 1992, died young in Guilin Changhai Machinery Factory in 1998. This brother, down-to-earth tolerance, treat people modestly and sincerely, never calculating, work and study diligently, character is very high. Every time I think back to the time we spent together, my heart hurts.

The friend slowed down the car to the look of tears, stirring my long silent heart, so that I am shocked that the current human desire to flow of the red earth still has such true feelings and noble, in the people who have been gone for more than twenty years can still be tearful.

According to the time projection, Tang Xiaohui was a student of NPC 88, in the second semester of his freshman year, which coincided with the patriotic democratic movement of 1989, I wonder if his illness and early death were related to his deep involvement in that hunger strike movement. One of them passed away from cancer in 1998, and the other one is still suffering from the disease.

So I asked Tang Xiaohui for more details. However, since my friend was one year behind Tang Xiaohui in high school, I only got the chance to meet him later at work and learned that he was born in Phoenix Township, Quanzhou County, and I did not know anything else about his family, but I could still remember Tang Xiaohui’s story about the 1989 movement. We then agreed to try to contact Tang’s classmates or colleagues and ask them to take the time to take us to visit Tang’s old home in order to send our memories.


On February 6, 2021, my friends and I, together with Tang Xiaohui’s younger brother and two of his former flatmates, drove to Tang Xiaohui’s hometown, Fenghuang Town, Duixi Village.

The village is located in the Xianggui corridor, backed by the Ocean Mountain, facing the Jianjiang River, a tributary of the Xiangjiang River, the village has been built for thousands of years.

Tang Xiaohui’s 85-year-old father, who served in the army for more than 20 years when he was young, is now in good health, with a bright red face and a loud voice. He is a straightforward, open-minded and sensible person.

Tang Xiaohui has five siblings, three older sisters and a younger brother. His mother died a few years ago after suffering from mental illness for many years.

The area around Zui Xi Village is densely populated due to the convenience of transportation and firewood, and the arable land per capita is only five cents. This was a difficult time to make ends meet in the days when the large collective relied on the work share for food and was not allowed to go out to work and do business. Tang Xiaohui was born in September 1970, when his father was away in the army and his sisters were young and in school, so the family had to rely on his mother alone to work and earn points. When Tang Xiaohui was less than five years old, her mother committed suicide by drinking medicine because she could not stand the bullying of her neighbors in the village, and was later rescued from death, but she was mentally disturbed and unable to take care of her five younger siblings.

Growing up in this difficult environment, Tang Xiaohui developed a hard-working, persevering, self-improving, patient and dignified character, and developed a compassion for the disadvantaged and a strong desire for justice and dignity. His early maturity and wisdom were the result of his hardships, and the villagers still remember the interesting story of him helping his teacher explain some arithmetic and correcting his classmates’ homework in elementary school.

When he was in high school, Tang Xiaohui talked to a cousin of the same clan about his future aspirations, saying that he could become a government official in the future to help justice, the weak and the needy, and to benefit one side of the country in order to show his life’s ambition. Therefore, in 1988, he enrolled in Renmin University, which was called the second party school in China at that time.


In the second semester after Tang Xiaohui was admitted to the NPC with honors, a great drama was staged with the sudden death of Hu Gong, which had a profound impact on human history in the pursuit of democracy. Tang Xiaohui, who was deeply concerned about the country and the people, naturally did not stand by and watch.

Many years later, he talked to his friends in Guilin about the hunger strike, the red cloth tied around his head, and the anger of the struggle. He said that he participated in it for no other reason than the passionate blood and an unrepentant heart; he also told his friends that there were all kinds of moving feelings from students and citizens.

Many years later, Tang Xiaohui reminisced with his friends, and still could not hide the resolute and determined spirit for the people. But that hunger strike may have seriously set back the original thin body and laid the root of a terminal illness later.

On June 5 of that year, a teacher from the department secretly approached him and told him to leave Beijing as soon as possible, to escape from his hometown, and to wait for further news from the school before making any plans. So he followed the example of the movie “Railroad Guerrillas”, climbing the wagons, drilling coal wagons, running through half of China, for nearly ten days, dusty and dusty, with a black and thin face, full of fatigue, he returned to his hometown. He was a cousin of the village cadres to help him block the above tracing, instructed him to stay out of the house, closed door to thank the guests, recuperate, and wait for the time to change. Until more than two months later, the school teacher informed him that he could return to school, only to resign from home to the north.

During his stay at home, Tang Xiaohui thought deeply about the fate of the country and the people, and studied the current political situation, and decided that the authorities must be afraid of the students who had experienced this movement and would not reuse them, so he expected that it would be difficult to get a career in the future.


In July 1992, Tang Xiaohui was assigned to work in Guilin Changhai Machinery Factory. Because of his hard work and diligence, he soon became familiar with the business of the post, but also because he always with goodwill and sincerity to people, never with the people of the gains and losses, with virtue to repay grievances, generous treatment of people, won the respect of colleagues and leadership of the unit’s appreciation, in just four years of work, was elected as the head of the department, listed in the Changhai state-owned enterprises the youngest middle-level cadres.

At the beginning of 1998, Tang Xiaohui accidentally encountered a three-wheeled agricultural motor vehicle in the streets of Guilin to acquire scrap collision. Tang Xiaohui saw that the perpetrator poor, feel that although they have a few skin broken but no major injuries, that only need to go to the hospital for a little examination and treatment, when no serious injury. So he waved his hand and told the perpetrator to leave, even a name, phone number and car number did not remember. But since then, he often felt a vague pain in the abdomen, at first thought it was a little after the collision after the injury, eat some pain medication to regulate a period of time will be good. Who knows that two months later, the pain intensified, and then to the hospital for a comprehensive examination, it was found to be cancerous, and has been advanced, and finally left the life of the rescue.

According to expert analysis, the possibility of cancer caused by trauma is extremely small. Tang Xiaohui’s cancer was not caused by the car accident, but the accident made his hidden disease appear. But the hunger strike he participated in that year, due to the damage to his body, whether the root of the disease was buried, let people doubt.

It is often said that “people eat grains to produce all kinds of diseases”, and there are still many unsolved mysteries about cancer. But I came across three people who participated in that hunger strike, and two of them died of cancer in 1998. This is probably a coincidence, but if we could conduct a comprehensive survey of the health conditions of the hunger strikers over the years, we might be able to solve some of the mysteries.


Quanzhou is located in the corridor of Xianggui and the key point of Lingnan. Since ancient times, it has been the choke point for the spread of Chinese culture to the south of Lingnan. Although the people of this place are southerners, they have northerners’ character, and they are loyal and straightforward, not afraid of the powerful and noble, and they hold the rules and keep the reason, rather than bend. In history, there was Jiang Guan, who was the chief minister of the cabinet of the Ming Dynasty, who refused to obey the emperor’s wishes in the “discussion of the great ceremony” and preferred to be dismissed from his post and return to his hometown to die, which shows his moral integrity of light power and noble but heavy on reason and law; Xie Jishi, the imperial inspector of the Qing Dynasty, had a strong iron bone, was cynical about evil, and asked for the people’s lives regardless of life and death. In his life, he was falsely accused four times, imprisoned three times, lost his official position twice, was beheaded once, and was once sent to the army. The legendary tales of virtue and virtue of the sages of Quanzhou, such as Jiang Guan and Xie Jishi, are still widely circulated in the community of Quanzhou after hundreds of years, and have impregnated and influenced generations of descendants.

In the drama of 1989, which had a profound impact on the destiny of mankind, a group of students from Jeonju in Beijing were involved in it, and some died for it, some lost their education, some were sent to teach in remote places and suffered a lonely life, and some refused to be bought by fame and fortune and were exiled. Tang Xiaohui was fortunate enough to be protected by his teacher and was able to pass through safely, but he may have suffered a serious injury during the hunger strike and eventually died in his youth before his ambition was fulfilled.


Group photo of the NPC Economics Department in 1992

In the summer of 2018, 20 years after the death of Tang Xiaohui, a group of students from the Department of Economics of the National People’s Congress went to Guilin and drove more than 200 miles to the former residence of Tang Xiaohui in Xizui Village to pay homage. Among them are university professors and city officials. A female university professor also confessed to Tang Xiaohui’s family that she had fallen in love with Tang Xiaohui during her college years and hoped to spend her life with him, but the fate did not arrive, and eventually became regretful.

In this era of chasing after fame and profit, right and wrong are reversed, good and evil are displaced, a poor scholar who trudged in the mud, whose position is not high and whose body is not obvious, can still win such deep memorials from his classmates and friends more than 20 years after his death, which shows how much light shone in his short and ordinary life that illuminated his peers. It makes people deeply appreciate the true meaning of Lu You’s phrase, “The fragrance is as old as the dust that falls into the mud”.

May 2021 in Quanzhou