What really happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989?

February 25, 2015

Twenty-six years after the alleged 1989 Tiananmen Square incident—and three Chinese Presidents later: Jiang Zemin (1993-2003), Hu Jintao (2003-2013), and now Xi Jinping (2013 – )—the U.S. media continues to annually remind the world of what might have happened.

I’ve heard from several Chinese American friends (now US citizens), who lived in China in 1989, that the student leaders behind the Tiananmen Square protest/massacre (April 14 – June 4, 1989) were supported by the CIA, and I asked myself if this was another conspiracy theory.

However, my curiosity was stirred, so I spent hours hunting the internet for clues that this might be true, and I discovered several coincidences that raised an eyebrow.

The U.S. Ambassador in China at the time, James Lilley (April 20, 1989 to 1991), was a former CIA operative who worked in Asia and helped insert CIA agents into China. President H. W. Bush (1989-1993) served as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing (1974 – 1976), who then went to serve as Director of the CIA (1976 – 1977).

Why did President H. W. Bush replace Winston Lord as ambassador to China (1985-1989) during the early days of the Tiananmen Square incident with a former CIA agent? After all, Lord spoke some Chinese and was a key figure in the restoration of relations between the US and China in 1972.  Wasn’t he the best man for the job during a crisis like this one?

I returned to my friends and asked, “How do you know the CIA helped the student leaders of the protest?”

“It’s obvious,” was the answer. The reason, my friends explained, was the fact that it was very difficult, almost impossible, for anyone in China to get a visa to visit the United States before the 21st century. Yet most of the young student leaders of the Tiananmen Square incident left China quickly after the event and prospered in the West without any obvious difficulty. In addition, after these student leaders came to the West, many were successful and became wealthy.

I returned to my investigation to verify these claims. Let’s Welcome Chinese Tourists was one piece I read from The Washington Post documenting how difficult it was to get a visa back then to visit the United States from China. I read another piece in The Chicago Tribune on the same subject. And my wife told me her brother and two sisters were denied visas to the U.S.

After more sleuthing, I learned that Wang Dan, one of the principal student organizers of the Tiananmen incident, went to jail because he stayed in China when most of the other student leaders fled. Today, Wang lives in the West and cannot go back. Two others went to Harvard and a third went to Yale. Where did they get the money—it’s expensive to attend these private universities?

How about the other leaders who fled to the West? Time Magazine reported, “Some have reincarnated themselves as Internet entrepreneurs, stockbrokers, or in one case, as a chaplain for the U.S. military in Iraq. Several have been back to China to investigate potential business opportunities.”

Official figures of the dead during the incident ranged from 200 to 300. At the Chinese State Council press conference on June 6, spokesman Yuan Mu said that “preliminary tallies” by the government showed that about 300 civilians and soldiers died, including 23 students from universities in Beijing, along with a number of people he described as “ruffians”. Yuan also said some 5,000 soldiers and police along with 2,000 civilians were wounded. On June 19, Beijing Party Secretary Li Ximing reported to the Politburo that the government’s confirmed death toll was 241, including 218 civilians (of which 36 were students), 10 PLA soldiers and 13 People’s Armed Police, along with 7,000 wounded.

Chinese government officials have long asserted that no one died in the Square itself in the early morning hours of June 4, during the ‘hold-out’ of the last batch of students in the south of the Square. Initially foreign media reports of a “massacre” on the Square were prevalent, though later journalists acknowledged that most of the deaths occurred outside of the Square in western Beijing.

Several people who were situated around the square that night, including Jay Mathews, former Beijing bureau chief of The Washington Post, and Richard Roth, CBS correspondent, reported that while they heard sporadic gunfire, they could not find enough evidence to suggest that a massacre took place on the Square itself.

If the U.S. media annually reminds the world of the alleged Tiananmen Square massacre, why don’t they also remind us of another massacre that took place in Taiwan in 1947 where about 30,000 Taiwanese citizens were slaughtered during the 2-28 Massacre by troops of America’s ally Chang Kai-shek?

Can anyone explain why the deaths of a few hundred Chinese in Communist China in 1989 are more important than the slaughter of 30,000 civilians in 1947 by an American ally?

Thanks to a comment, I learned about another slaughter of citizens demanding democracy that took place in South Korea in 1980.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Kindle_LR_e-book_cover_MSC_July_25_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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China’s Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 1 of 3

November 11, 2014

The Economist (September 9, 2010) published a critical piece about China’s relationship with MyanmarWelcome, Neighbor – China hosts another tinpot dictator from next door

“Tinpot dictator” are the two key words in the title of this opinion piece, as if the United States or the UK has never hosted and/or supported “tinpot” dictators.

A well-written criticism of the U.S. government from Sri Lanka sets the record straight.

“I wish the spokesman of the (U.S.) State Department … would explain how Washington’s concern for democracy in Sri Lanka squares with US support for repressive regimes such as the one in Uzbekistan or the autocratic rule in Saudi Arabia, both countries in which the U.S. has military facilities.

“In post-World War II period, Washington has militarily propped up such dictators including several in South Korea, Ferdinand Marcos who was ousted by the Filipino people, Indonesia’s Suharto also thrown out by the people, Vietnam’s Dinh Diem, various military governments in Thailand, Singapore’s autocrat Lee Kwan Yew, the military dictators in Pakistan from Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf, all of them from our part of the world…” The Ugly Americans Once More (Lankaweb, Sri Lanaka’s first Social Media website)

The Economist only mentions a half century of history between China and Burma/Myanmar, yet, China’s history with Burma and then Myanmar goes back about two thousand years.

The opinion piece also does not mention that China, since 1982, has not been into nation building as the U.S. has since 9/11, when President G.W. Bush launched wars against Iraq and Afghanistan with threats to Iran and North Korea.

Continued on November 12, 2014 with Part 2

View as Single Page

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Hong Kong’s short history with Democracy—the facts will not set you free

October 4, 2014

It’s arguable that the history of democracy in Hong Kong is so short, it never existed.

China never willingly leased Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842. Instead, China lost Hong Kong during the Opium Wars, and later leased adjacent terrorists to the British under duress when, in 1860, at the end of the Second Opium War, the UK gained a perpetual lease over the Kowloon Peninsula, which is the mainland Chinese area just across the strait from Hong Kong Island. This agreement was part of the Convention of Beijing that ended that conflict

In 1898, the British and Chinese governments signed the Second Convention of Peking, which included a 99-year lease agreement for the islands surrounding Hong Kong, called the “New Territories.”

On December 19, 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, in which Britain agreed to return not only the New Territories but also Kowloon and Hong Kong itself when the lease term expired on July 1, 1997. China promised to implement a “One Country, Two Systems” regime, under which for fifty years Hong Kong citizens could continue to practice capitalism and political freedoms forbidden on the mainland.

However, for almost all of its history under British rule, executive power in Hong Kong has been concentrated in the hands of the colony governor, a position appointed by the British crown without any democratic input from Hong Kong citizens. The introduction of elected representatives determined by local elections, even limited to the role of “advisory councils,” did not begin until after the 1984 agreements by the British to hand Hong Kong over to China.

In conclusion, democracy in Hong Kong did not exist under British rule, but the British felt it would be acceptable once Hong Kong was returned to China.

But that history hasn’t stopped media critics in the United States from bashing China for the recent student-led unrest in Hong Kong that has been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution”.

Now, I want to return to the title of this post. It should have said: “The non-existent History of Democracy in Hong Kong”, because Hong Kong has never been a democracy.

Is it possible that the so-called Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong is a deliberate diversion from another truth?

Critics in the United States should be aware of the long history of America’s support for brutal dictators and authoritarian governments, before claiming that the United States supports democracy anywhere.

The previous video is a bit out of date but it still supports the idea that we should never accept what anyone says or claims.  Instead, we should pay attention to what they have done and what they are still doing, and the United States has the biggest private-sector weapons industry in the world.

In addition, Global Issues reports: “Heavy militarization of a region increases the risk of oppression on local people. Consequently reactions and uprisings from those oppressed may also be violent. The Middle East is a current example, while Latin America is an example from previous decades, where in both cases, democracies or popular regimes have (or had) been overthrown with foreign assistance, and replaced with corrupt dictators or monarchs. Oppression (often violent) and authoritarianism rule has resulted. Sometimes this also itself results in terrorist reactions that lash out at other innocent people.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Talent and Compassion from China

March 12, 2014

Back in 2010, I wrote China’s Got Talent Too and mentioned Liu Wei, an armless pianist who plays piano with his toes.

He won that national talent contest and sang, “You Are Beautiful” in English.

Lui Wei’s motto is, “I have two options: I can die as fast as possible, or I can live a brilliant life, and I chose the latter.”

Another one of Liu Wei’s quotes is, “To me, there are three things that cannot be missed in life: air, water and music.”


If you watch his winning performance in the embedded video and don’t speak Chinese, be patient. Eventually you will get to hear Liu Wei perform.

Liu Wei was 10 years old when he lost his arms after touching a high-voltage wire during a game of hide-and seek.

In America, the standard current is 110 V.  In China, the standard electric current is 220 V. If you travel the globe, you might want visit the World Electric Guide and this link at Electric Shock to discover a few tips to help you avoid that voltage shock.

I also read a piece in the People’s Daily Online that asked Do Chinese people lack compassion?

After reading the piece in the People’s Daily, I’m sure most animal lovers in the United States would think the Chinese lack compassion, but I’d disagree. Most Chinese have a lot of compassion but it isn’t the same as showing compassion in the West, which might mean donating money or time to an animal shelter.

In China, compassion helped Liu Wei win China’s Got Talent, and he became a national celebrity and an example to every child in China showing what it means to never give up regardless of the odds.

Liu Wei earned that compassion by not allowing his handicap to get in his way—not because he lost his arms in an accident.

After winning the talent contest, he landed in the Guinness World Record for typing the most letters alphabetically in 1 minute using his feet: 251 letters.


Liu Wei performing on Italian TV
Watch him set a Guinness World Record in the last half of the video

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 2 of 2

February 5, 2014

Ai Weiwei also infers that it wasn’t the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 5,335 children (Weiwei’s number because there has been no official death count of how many children died) but corruption in the CCP that led to shoddy construction, and every opinion Weiwei says in the film is reported as if it were a fact.

But the film leaves out many facts of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 69,195 with 18,392 missing; 374,176 injured; left 5 million people homeless of the 15 million who lived in the area with no mention that many of the schools that collapsed were built in the late 1970s before even the United States had tougher earthquake building codes.

if seventeen percent of China’s population is age 14 or less, then about 2.6 million children must have lived in the area hit by the earthquake—those children who died then represent 0.2% of the total number of children and that was much less than the 0.46% that represents deaths compared to the total population of the area. Why did Weiwei [and the western media] ignore the fact that 99.8% of children under age 14 survived?

China’s government did report that more than 7,000 inadequately engineered schoolrooms collapsed in the earthquake, but China’s critics—including Weiwei—never mention that few buildings survive an 8.0 earthquake without damage, and that this earthquake was rated the 21st deadliest earthquake of all time.

And according to Structure.org, the number of collapsed or seriously damaged structures exceeded 25 million. I think it is safe to say that most of the buildings in that area were not adequately engineered to survive an earthquake of that magnitude, and the schools that collapsed represent 0.028% of the total number of buildings damaged. I wonder if any schools survived and—if so—when were they built?

If you want a better perspective, I suggest reading The Christian Science Monitor that reported, “Earthquake engineers say that constructing a building to resist a quake of magnitude 7 or 8 is possible, but is often considered cost prohibitive” … and “Schools … are particularly vulnerable because they are often mid-sized buildings, smaller projects for contractors that are paid by [local] government bureaucracies. Two recent earthquakes in Indonesia and in Kashmir also resulted in a disproportionate [number of] student deaths.”

“Often school buildings suffer quite a bit,” said Amir Elnashnai, director of the Mid-America Earthquake Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In addition, why is it that China is condemned for the collapse of older concrete and brick buildings during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake when The Los Angeles Times reported in October 2013 that “More than 1,000 old concrete buildings in Los Angeles and hundreds more throughout the county may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake, according to a Times analysis. By the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of these buildings in the city alone would be destroyed, exposing thousands to injury or death.”

You may also be interested in reading what Sweet and Sour Socialism has to say about this controversial artist in “Detained: Ai WeiWei, Con Artist” by Yoichi Shimatsu [the 4th media]”

Simatsu is Japanese and is the former Editor of the Japan Times Weekly. Now, do you think Ai Weiwei is a hero and the documentary offers a balanced perspective of the issues discussed?

Return to Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The Home Song Stories: a movie review

January 1, 2014

The Home Song Stories, based on a true story, stars Joan Chen as Rose. Joan Chen was born into a family of doctors and educated in China during the Mao era; she is considered the Elizabeth Taylor of China and delivers a powerful performance in this film, which won a slew of foreign awards.  Rose is a lost soul with two children who moves to Australia after marrying an Australian sailor she meets in Hong Kong.

In 2007, the film won awards from the Australian Film Institute; awards from the Golden Horse Film Festival; the Hawaii International Film Festival; the Torino International Festival of Young Cinema, and in 2008, it won the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award.

The film is set in the late 1960s, and the Australian sailor turns out to be an admirable character. See the film to discover why.

Later in the film, it is revealed that at sixteen Rose was sold to become a concubine to an older man, but she fell in love with her master’s younger brother, an artist, and they run off. A few years later, the love of Rose’s life dies from tuberculosis. To survive, Rose becomes a night-club singer who takes a string of lovers. The story is told from her young son’s point of view. Rose’s daughter is a teenager for most of the film.

Discover Not One Less, a film produced in China that went on to win eighteen international film awards. At the Venice Film Festival, it won the Golden Lion Award, the highest prize given to a film at this festival.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 2 of 2

December 4, 2013

Mao (born 1893) grew up during a period of madness in China. To learn more, I suggest reading The Roots of Madness, which shows that world.

Then the Chinese Civil War lasted from 1926 to 1949 with a few years out to fight the horrors of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

The Long March experience by itself was enough to cause PTSD in all 6,000 of its survivors from the more than 80,000 troops that started the year-long journey of retreat, battle, and severe suffering that was surrounded by death on a daily basis.

After Mao was China’s leader, there was an assassination attempt by one of his most trusted generals, Lin Biao, a man Mao had named as his successor after he died.  In addition, during China’s Civil WarChiang Kai-shek ordered more than one failed assassination attempt on Mao.

However, the threats and violence that shaped Mao’s life began before The Long March and before he was a leader in the Chinese Communist Party.

As a child, he grew up among farmers and peasants with an average expected life span in China of 35 years. In the 1920s, as an idealist and a sensitive poet, he believed in helping the worker and led several labor movements that were brutally subdued by the Nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-shek.

Once, he barely escaped with his life.

In 1930, Yang Kaihu, his wife at the time—Mao was married four times—was arrested and executed. In addition, Mao had two younger brothers and an adopted sister executed by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops. If you had several close calls with death; lost a wife, two younger brothers and an adopted sister in this way, how would that affect you?

To judge Mao by today’s Politically Correct Western values is wrong, because he grew up in a world ruled by a completely different set of values that shaped him to be tough enough to survive and win.

Anyone that survived and went on to rule China at that time would have been judged as brutal by today’s Politically Correct Western values. In fact, Chiang Kai-shek was a brutal dictator who ruled Taiwan—after he fled mainland China in 1949—under military marshal law until his death in 1976. But Chiang didn’t have as many people to rule over so the death count was smaller but no less significant.

The History of Humanitarianism shows us that this concept was born and nurtured in the West and developed slowly over centuries with the result that the individual was made more important than an entire population.

However, in China, the whole is still more important than one person is as it was during Mao’s time. If you were to click on the link to the History of Humanitarianism and read it, you would discover that China was not part of this movement while Mao lived. (Discover more about China’s Collective Culture)

PTSD as a war wound and a trauma was not recognized or treated until well after America’s Vietnam War.  Prior to its discovery, it was known as shell shock. The diagnosis of PTSD first appeared in the 1980s, and Mao died in 1976.

In fact, if Mao were alive today he would not be alone. In the United States, it is estimated that 7.8% of all Americans suffer from PTSD, and among that segment of the population, more than 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans have PTSD in addition to 1.7 million Vietnam veterans.

Return to or start with The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 


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