Tag Archives: Tiananmen Square

We have forgotten the lessons of Tiananmen


We have forgotten the lessons of Tiananmen



From the San Diego Union Tribune, June 16, 2011




Twenty-two years ago, millions of people gathered in public places across China to demand the respect of their government. As thousands jammed into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, one of us was there in the crowd as the other watched fascinated from the other side of the world. Unknown to each other at the time, we were connected by the common exhilaration of the moment as free people stood up to claim both their natural rights and a nation’s rightful place in the world order. It should have been a glorious moment as well as a new basis for a true partnership with China’s natural ally, the United States.

Of course, we all know what did happen that June 4. Though one of us was lucky enough to just miss the gunfire by returning to lead protests in Changsha and the other remained safely behind a television screen in America, we shared the horror, disgust and disillusionment of that day. We wept, shook our heads, cried out, “Why?” and reached the same, frankly obvious conclusion: The Chinese Communist Party is a murderous regime that couldn’t be trusted and America’s policy of engagement had failed.

History tells us that engagement with totalitarians has been a proven dead end since Napoleon used the 1801 Treaty of Amiens to consolidate his regime of fear and to prepare for war, and the lesson for democracies has been the same from Hitler to Gadhafi: Bad guys don’t change and they do not honor agreements.

Two decades of failure since have made clear that fake smiles aside, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao are no different from the rest of history’s rogue’s gallery. It’s no surprise that China’s dictators continue to lie, cheat and steal their way through domestic politics, international affairs and business engagements.

What is surprising is that America’s business leaders, politicians and pundits continue to pander to this particular group of thugs against all reason. Decades after Tiananmen, we ask those Americans just how many artists, peacemakers and religious practitioners must China lock up before America opens its sleepy eyes? How many millions of women need be subjected to forced reproductive control? How many executions must there be? To what degree must China’s cities, rivers and seas be polluted by a perverted state capitalism that keeps Communists in power?

If human rights no longer carries weight with America’s free traders, then we ask how many American jobs need to be sacrificed to China’s blatantly manipulated currency, sad labor conditions and abuse of World Trade Organization rules? How many American firms need to be destroyed by intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, “partnership” requirements, tariffs and export restrictions? How badly do our most promising new companies, like Facebook and Google, have to be cheated by market-restricting censorship and government-backed cyber attacks?

Before he was oddly silenced, Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, commented to the Financial Times, “I really worry about China. I’m not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.” Of course they don’t. Why would a government whose very name – “The People’s Republic” – is a lie and that uses its own constitution – which guarantees freedom of speech, religion, and assembly – as a doormat honor any partnership with your company or America – the embodiment of the principles it despises?

Finally, if you find repression and economic warfare an unwelcome distraction from consumption of cheap goods, please consider this before you fill your shopping cart: China is building a massive, high-tech military force that grows faster than its breakneck gross domestic product. A rising armada of naval power, missiles, stealth aircraft and space weaponry is aimed squarely at our allies in Asia, U.S. armed forces and the heartland of America. Is this the kind of regime we should be doing business with?

Over the years we have become very familiar with the argument that U.S. policy should remain forever frozen regardless of how outrageous Beijing’s behavior becomes, because any action in support of our principles would either prove futile or worse, resulting in economic retribution. The former argument may be true, but has not altered our approach toward China’s good friends in Iran, Zimbabwe or Sudan, while the latter simply makes it clear that we are falling into the Communist Party’s web of intimidation. That is exactly the reason we must make a stand sooner rather than later.


Autry is the co-author of “Death by China” and teaches macroeconomics at UC Irvine. Tang was a student leader in China in 1989, still works for Chinese democracy, and is the co-author of “My Two Chinas: The Memoirs of Chinese Counter-Revolutionary.”

Forward To Death by China. By Baiqiao Tang!

Peter and I are particularly proud of the fine forward and epilog that grace our book. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher wrote the end -piece and dissident and human rights advocate Baiqiao Tang starts the book off. Tang was student leader from Changsa, who joined the 1989 protests in his home town and traveled to Beijing to support those in Tiananmen square.


Baiqiao’s adventures, including being jailed, tortured, and eventually escaping China are detailed a fantastic new book, My Two Chinas written with the talented Damon DiMarco. My Two Chinas is available right here on our bookstore tab. You can find more info on Damon’s blog a http://www.damondimarco.com/author/ and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/Mytwochinas

Here Tang offers us some insight into his experience and warns us that China’s corrupt regime is more than just a Chinese problem. We all share responsibility for it and we all need to work together to keep our world safe from it.



In the late 1980s, China was abuzz with excitement and possibility as new ideas, personal freedoms, and economic opportunities were flowing in from the West like a river to wash away the dirt of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

During these hopeful times, I was among a group of young student leaders who led calls for political reform to match the new thinking and bring China into the modern world with dignity. We organized rallies and made speeches at schools and squares all across the country, and we fervently believed the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party would listen. Instead, our movement was crushed by a wave of tanks and the tragic events of June 4th, 1989 in Tiananmen Square that so many of you watched with horror on television.

So much was lost that day—and it was not just the lives of so many brave Chinese that we cried over. Also lost was a once-in-a-
generation opportunity to live freely in a democratic China with the very brightest of futures.

Not long after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, I was arrested and jailed, and, along with thousands of other demonstrators, subjected to many months of torture and depravation. During these dark times spent in very dark places, many of my friends died; and to this day, some Tiananmen survivors are still being held in jails or forced labor camps.

Sadly, a whole new generation of Chinese youth knows nothing about what happened at Tiananmen. While we in the West can freely access the videos and images on the Internet associated with the massacre, all of this content has been ritually “cleansed” from the Chinese web by a vast army of censors.

I have now spent half my life fighting against such censorship and for freedom and democracy in China. More than ever, I fervently believe that this is what every thinking person outside of China must clearly understand:

More than two decades after Tiananmen, the totalitarian tiger has still not changed its stripes. In fact, unlike more stable countries, China’s spending on police and social control is now rising even faster than China’s skyrocketing defense budget!

It is with no small irony or anger that I note it is many of the very same Communist Party officials who supervised the beating, jailing, and killing of my fellow students in the wake of Tiananmen who are today orchestrating the relentless persecution of religious followers like the Falun Gong and the harsh repression of peaceful minorities like the Tibetans and the Uighurs. It is also the very same Chinese Communist Party that has been so quick to crack down on all political opposition movements like the Charter 08 manifesto and the rising Jasmine Revolution Movement; and the only change is that this new century’s ruling clique is ever more cunning, more clandestine, and technologically more sophisticated.

Today, as I live comfortably, safely, and free in New York City, I can understand why it is so hard for those in the West to see the Chinese Communist Party clearly for the dangerous enemy that is—to both the people of China and the rest of the world. After all, the leaders in Beijing look very personable on TV, and they now quite strategically refrain from the threatening anti-West rants of Mao.

But facts are facts and the truth is the truth. And as the pages of this incredibly powerful book unfold, you will be confronted with fact after incontrovertible fact that the rulers in Beijing continue to brutally suppress the voices of China’s own people even as they systematically flood the world with dangerous products, use a potent arsenal of mercantilist and protectionist weapons to destroy the economies of America and the West, and rapidly arm themselves with the best weapons systems their elaborate spy network can steal from the ­Pentagon.

I can also understand why these sobering facts and harsh truths may be at odds with your own personal experience. As a tourist to China, you may have taken an enjoyable cruise down the Yangtze, been mesmerized by the Terracotta Soldiers, walked in exhilaration along the Great Wall, or been utterly fascinated by the Forbidden City. Or you may even be an American business executive in Shanghai or Shenzhen making money hand over fist and being hosted to fabulous meals with no reason to see anything but blue skies and a yellow brick road ahead. Unfortunately, most Americans never see the other face of China and how the Chinese people have paid for all this “progress” with a dramatically damaged ecosystem, corruption, social injustice, human rights abuse, poisonous foods, and most seriously, the moral degradation of their souls.

Although I miss China, America has become my beloved second home; and the support of my beautiful wife shows me every day why America is the strongest country in the world. I also see this strength in so many small things in America, like the bumper sticker that reads, “Freedom Is Not Free.”

I personally know how true that statement really is. I also know that the cost of freedom isn’t always about fighting a military battle. It also includes the individual, political, and economic sacrifices of peacefully defending human rights and standing up for the principals of liberty and democracy.

Demanding that we live up to these principles as Peter Navarro and Greg Autry do in this deeply moving book can never be the wrong choice; and that is why it is long past time for the citizens of the world to truly stand beside the Chinese people—and not the brutally repressive and antiquated regime that rules them. If there is one abiding truth that stands above all after Tiananmen, it is that only a free and democratic China will benefit the world.

—Baiqiao Tang, Tiananmen Square protester and co-author of
My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary
New York City
March 23, 2011


You can download a PDF excerpt of Death by China which includes Tang’s forward here: http://deathbychina.com/order.html