Wei Jingsheng: June 4, 1989 was the turning point of China’s modernization

From April to June 1989, massive mass protests took place in Beijing and spread to all major cities in the country. Rough estimates suggest that it reached the scale of several million people per day, over a million per day in Beijing alone. The marching and protesting masses were in good order, with no vandalism or looting; there were no major traffic accidents in the absence of police. This demonstrates the good quality of Chinese people and the unanimous determination of the whole nation to fight against corruption and for democracy.

There are also a large number of officials within the CCP who sympathize with the demands of the students and the masses and oppose the suppression of mass movements. At the top were Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang and a group of senior generals, while the lowest level included most ordinary party members and cadres. By my rough count on TV, almost all the CPC organs except the CPC Central Committee joined the procession with banners. It can be said that the hearts of the Party and the people were on the side of the students who started the movement, including the so-called second generation of the Red Generation, who were criticized by the RTHK media and were even the vanguard of support for the student movement.

Afterwards, a friend told me a joke. In the Poly Building, where the sons of cadres were gathered, one ass-kisser saw that the time had come and shouted in the hallway: Good job suppressing, good job suppressing. A few angry people covered his head with clothes and said they would throw him out of the upstairs window. He was so scared that he cried out and said: I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding, you don’t take it seriously.

There is another joke that is even more evocative. There were a few high-ranking buildings outside the Fuxing Gate, and one of them had an old Marxist-Leninist woman holding her grandson at the window, shouting loudly to the troops who were shooting to suppress the people: good fight, good fight. As a result, the soldier who could not hear clearly thought she was shouting reactionary slogans and shot the child in the side, leaving him with a lifelong disability. After this, all the old cadres in the building, including the janitor, would say seriously when they came across her: well done, well done.

You think it’s a joke, right? But this is a true story. It shows that the vast majority of people at that time, regardless of their status, were on the side of the students and the masses who supported them, and the few who were unhinged were a joke to the masses. Some people will say, you that is all heard, does not count, need evidence to know? Then I’ll tell you what I directly encountered.

At that time, the television in my labor camp only broadcast the news bulletin, followed by a shot of the rebellious labor inmates in order to deter all of them. But on June 4, everyone was concerned about the situation in the square. A couple of young policemen with sacks and wooden sticks approached the guy who managed the transposer and asked him: Is the transposer still off today? He was so scared that he said: “That’s the leader’s rule, it’s not my business, now I lock the door and throw the key on the roof. Only then did everyone let him go. After this until July, we can watch CCTV all day long.

The old policeman who watched TV all day with me saw the square loudspeaker announcing loudly that please be assured that the people’s army would not shoot the people. The old policeman and I stomped our feet together and said: That’s silly, the Communists will definitely shoot, why didn’t anyone tell these silly students who haven’t even grown hair? The premise of this statement is that the students’ demands for anti-corruption and democracy are reasonable and legitimate, but according to the laws of the Communist Party will definitely shoot to suppress them. It means that even these old party members who chose to watch over me, a counter-revolutionary, were at heart on the side of the students and the citizens.

The reason why the 1989 movement was so widespread and won the approval of the vast majority of the people was that the two Chinese Communist Parties, from Mao Zedong to Deng Xiaoping, had been opposed by the whole country, including the majority of people in the Communist Party, who also agreed with the demand for democracy and the fight against corruption. This movement was a turning point in the direction of Chinese society, a critical juncture in the choice between continued authoritarian dictatorship or popular democracy.

Deng Xiaoping’s group suppressed the movement by brutal massacres, leading to the continuation of the dictatorship for decades more. Now that the people are finding it harder and harder to tolerate the dictatorial political system, a new choice is coming. The democratic movement of June 4, 1989, has laid a deep foundation of hearts and public opinion for the new choice.