People and human rights organizations around the world are generally concerned about June 4, and commemorative activities are held every year, but in China, the vast majority of young people do not know about the 1989 pro-democracy movement and June 4. A teacher in Henan told the station that textbooks are under strict scrutiny and the June Fourth Incident has been erased, so students have no way to learn about that part of history. However, for decades, the 4 June incident has been passed down from mouth to mouth among the people.
As the 32nd anniversary of June 4 approaches, people all over the world are commemorating it, but in China, officials are deliberately downplaying it and even forbidding people from talking about it. Most young people in China have no knowledge of the June Fourth Incident, and when this reporter asked the parents of several students, the answer was “I don’t know about June Fourth”. For decades, rumors about June 4 have been passed down from mouth to mouth among the people.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Ms. Yan, a teacher at Hunan High School, said that the vast majority of students now do not know about June 4 because of the information blackout and the strict censorship of textbooks.
“From the news media to the textbooks are being deliberately erased from the text, communication media and other areas. The average child, the younger ones, don’t know about it. Some of them even heard about it (June 4) but they don’t know anything about the cause and the extent of the tragedy at that time.”
Late leaders such as Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang rarely appear in textbooks
Ms. Yan said that in textbooks, in addition to the 1989 pro-democracy movement, even the name of former Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang has to be avoided.
“Including in textbooks, because children want to know about these things, mainly from textbooks. These people are deliberately faded from the public eye. No matter which generation of leaders, their merits and faults, at least these things that have passed should be known to the public and be evaluated by the public. Why don’t you dare to let the public evaluate?”
For 32 years, teachers have not dared to speak about the June 4 issue, Chinese television does not report on it, and even the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, when pressed by foreign journalists at a press conference about the responsibility for the June 4 incident, was tight-lipped, at most using the term “political storm” to comment on the June 4 incident. In this regard, Chinese scholars believe that what the authorities fear most is that young people will learn about that part of history and then search for the truth.
Information monopolized by authorities and those who know are silenced
Li Hao, a Hebei-based scholar of literature and history, told the station that there are two main reasons why Chinese young people today know nothing about the fierce 1989 pro-democracy movement, which shook the world 32 years ago.
“The first reason is the monopoly of information by the Chinese Communist authorities, and the second reason is that those who knew back then were forced to keep quiet. Let’s look at one aspect first. In the last 20 to 30 years, the Chinese Communist Party has been very strict in controlling information about June 4, about Zhao Ziyang, and she has monopolized the sources of information. For example, the news media, self-published media, textbooks, publications, literary works and film and television works, etc.”
Li Hao said that even if information “slips through the net” and appears inadvertently in literature or in WeChat groups, it is quickly deleted. As a result, young Chinese are now exposed to information that the authorities want them to know. In order to prevent those who experienced June 4 from passing on information to the next generation, the authorities often practice white terror. Li Hao, who lived through the 1989 pro-democracy movement, said.
“This white terror is reflected in the fact that we don’t talk about the state, we unite to look at money, to make a big fortune. This kind of situation forced all the eyewitnesses to shut up. For any talk about political topics that the CCP doesn’t like, the authorities will smash your rice bowl.”
Secondary school teacher :The new generation only focuses on money, food, drink and fun
In response to the question of what kind of next generation China can actually produce in an oppressive and information-closed society, Mr. Zhen said frankly.
“Nowadays, the new generation only focuses on money, eating and drinking, and playing. Everyone is posting jitterbug and liking inside the mobile information, making their videos very beautiful and beautifying themselves. For fairness and justice, they do not have this concept. Nowadays, young people only want to enjoy themselves. As soon as they open their mouths, they say, “That’s someone else’s business, it has nothing to do with them.”
Despite the authorities’ efforts to block so-called sensitive information such as the June Fourth Incident, many people “climb over the wall” every day to visit websites outside the country to obtain information banned by the government, including the Cultural Revolution and the June Fourth Incident. They reflect on life “inside the wall” by learning about the outside world, but if they publicly express their personal views online, they will soon run into trouble.