June 4th Is Coming Soon…

…and the government is preempting it by blocking everything and arresting some people. Among the victims are Wu Gaoxing, a “prominent dissident”, as well as websites Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, and Microsoft’s new search engine Bing (how did anyone even notice this was blocked?). You might already be aware, as there are more than a few stories about this on the internet already.

What’s more interesting than the blocks (who didn’t see the death of twitter coming from miles away?) is what is actually being said inside China about the anniversary. Danwei caught the Global Times — a new Mainland newspaper in English — mentioning it outright in a piece called “Evolution of Chinese intellectuals’ thought over two decades”:

“It [the ’80s] was the age of enlightenment and almost a turning point for China’s political transition,” said Chen Zhigang, former Washington bureau chief of Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily.

[The] June 4 Incident broke out in 1989 and after that intellectuals in China “switched to silence”, according to Zhang Liping.

“Intellectuals no longer discussed ‘isms’ publicly, and shifted their focus to academic issues,” she said. “Some people worried that China might slip backward.”

Most media isn’t that bold, but the ever-fascinating China Media Project has a piece on how you can see the influence of Tiananmen ’89 ringing through in the official-speak about “stability preservation work” that’s been in all the papers recently:

Whatever assertions might be made about the irrelevance of June 4th for young Chinese today, the official language of “stability preservation work” underlines the ongoing importance of the 1989 protests in the party’s own mind.

Clearly, officials at every level are under the strictest orders to take the anniversary very seriously. And one must wonder: why is a generation of ostensibly indifferent university students of such concern to Beijing’s party secretary?

According to the Peking Duck, people looking for a way to mark the anniversary without getting arrested will be wearing white in China on Thursday.

As a sidenote, the Danwei piece also contains this little reminder as to how preposterous the tone of this discussion can get outside China’s borders:

Meantime, the British magazine Standpoint has published a piece by Jonathan Mirsky, a journalist who is fond of mentioning that he is persona non grata in China. The article includes the following paragraph:

To this day, if the word Tiananmen appears on the Chinese internet, whoever has used or accessed it can expect a knock on the door and may join the dozens of Tiananmen activists still in China’s jails and labour camps.

Danwei properly points out that this is a “ridiculous exaggeration”. Others among us might have even stronger words to say about this kind of “journalism”, but we’ll hold our tongues, at least until we can see the original article.

Also worth reading on this general topic: the Ma Jian piece (h/t Peking Duck)

0 thoughts on “June 4th Is Coming Soon…”

  1. I was wondering why hotmail was blocked. I’ve been trying to think of a subtle way to bring up June 4 to my students without actually telling them, “Guess what happened!”


  2. Custer, I need to correct the record. You write above:

    According to the Peking Duck, “angry bloggers” and others looking for a way to mark the anniversary without getting arrested will be wearing white in China on Thursday.

    I did not say that. My exact words:

    Someone raised the question on Twitter this afternoon – ironically shortly before the blockade – whether angry bloggers and people who will wear white shirts on Thursday and twitterers and others making noise about the anniversary really believe they’ll make a difference.

    That’s considerably different from what you have me saying in the post.


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