Talking to the ghosts of Tiananmen Square

A review of Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China, by Rowena Xiaoqing He. A masterly narrative that keeps the memory of 1989 alive

31 May 2014

9:00 AM

31 May 2014

9:00 AM

Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China Rowena Xinoqing He, with a foreword by Perry Link

Palgrave, pp.240, £18, ISBN: 9781137438300

Twenty-five years ago, Rowena Xiaoqing He, then a schoolgirl, was participating in the Tiananmen-supporting demonstrations in Canton. Far from the capital, this was one of several hundred cities that rose up during that Chinese spring. Following the Tiananmen killings on 3–4 June 1989, she was warned by her teacher to remove the black mourning band she wore on her sleeve. After some years working in Canton she moved to Canada, where she secured advanced degrees; she now teaches an undergraduate course on Tiananmen at Harvard.

Tiananmen Exiles is a brave book. It concentrates on the testimonies of three of the student leaders in Beijing and Canton, two of whom are still barred from their homeland. Rowena He shows, after meticulous interviews conducted over long periods, how these men were brought up, how their views of what they intended and accomplished in 1989 differ, and, fascinatingly, how their memories and opinions have changed over the years. She adds considerable analysis of her own brief time as an adolescent dissident in China, which, together with her experiences and investigations abroad, have led her to publish a book that may imperil her if she ever tries to return home.

Writing eloquently, with controlled passion, she asks probing questions of the three men — which they occasionally dodge — and reaches conclusions that will enlighten many, like myself, who were either in Tiananmen Square at the time or have read much about it since. Of these, the most rewarding insight is that

the exiled students were ‘patriots’, betrayed by the Beijing regime: they did what they had been taught — to sacrifice for the good of the country — but ironically they were punished by the very system that had instilled in them these values, and they were abandoned by the country for which they had made sacrifices.

This explains what to foreign observers seemed so strange: that the students and workers in Tiananmen Square, and elsewhere in China, who had been brought up on films, books and operas about sacrificing their lives for their country, sang the ‘Internationale’ during the first weeks of the demonstrations and only later began to call for the resignations of Li Peng and Deng Xiaoping and even for the end of the Party.

Two of this book’s main subjects are well known and have been interviewed in the past: Wang Dan is the most famous, and became, after that fateful 4 June, the most wanted man in China until he was finally arrested and imprisoned. Shen Tong, who fled to the United States six days after the killings, has been condemned in certain dissident circles for subsequently returning to China (where he was detained for 54 days) and doing business there. But the third figure, Yi Danxuan, is almost unknown, even to keen scholars of Tiananmen, having been a student leader in Canton — where he was detained and imprisoned before moving to the US in 1992.

Admirably, Rowena He does not criticise these by now middle-aged men for any contradictions in what they have said or done, or for their continued reticence on certain matters. She rightly says:

It is unfair to criticise their efforts because some of the leaders have fallen short of public expectations. It is also unreasonable to credit one single individual for any accomplishment achieved as a result of the movement’s efforts.

Instead, she lets them speak for themselves, presenting

the complexities, confusions and complications in the lives of these young men [there is barely a mention of Chai Ling, an important and now hugely controversial woman leader] who distinguished themselves as leaders of the Tiananmen movement.

And she gently notes the sufferings which have resulted from their courage and continuing dissidence, when many others have fallen silent.

Where I disagree is when He says that the

1989 Tiananmen movement was the most serious open conflict between the communist regime and the Chinese people since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949.

God knows it was ghastly enough, but the first years of the communist period, when Mao’s bloodthirstiness was encouraged by Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, witnessed the executions of at least two million souls; and during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1976 many more millions died, including those killed by the army.

He’s own parents suffered during those years, but like so many Chinese they scarcely mentioned the horrors of the past to their children; so that even though He is well-versed in her country’s history, that earlier period hasn’t touched her in the way Tiananmen has.

Its few factual errors do not detract from this book’s masterly narrative and analysis. Apart for being told off about her black armband, Rowena He emerged unscathed from the convulsions of Tiananmen. But in her mind and heart she is devoted to keeping the movement’s significance alive, and her often profound book is an unmistakable sign of her devotion to that cause.

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  • The sub-caption reads in part, “A review of Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China…”

    Those who were killed at Tiananmen Square weren’t the Communist leaders and their Communist followers, but non-Communist dupes who had no clue what they were taking part in, and those who safely marched out of Tiananmen Square minutes before the firing started, carrying Communist banners, never did call for democracy in China…

    “Q. In New Lies for Old, Golitsyn explained that the Sino-Soviet “split” was .false, forming part of a deception designed to persuade the West that the world Communist movement was disunited. What is the current position?

    A. The Sino-Soviet “split” was indeed a classic Leninist dialectical deception which masked the continuing collaboration between the two most important and powerful Communist Parties in the world, in pursuit of the long-range strategy which was ratified, as Golitsyn explained in New Lies for Old [the correct wording used by Golitsyn is “Long-Range Policy”], at the Eighty-One Party Congress held in Moscow in November 1960. It was at that Congress that the Communist parties agreed to collaborate over a period of decades in pursuit of the objective of “convergence” leading to world government.

    Golitsyn is most frequently attacked for his assertion that the Sino-Soviet “split” was false, because this particular element of the deception strategy is the most sensitive of all. If the West were to become aware that in fact the Russians and Chinese have been working closely together all along, and are the closest of allies, it would recognize the grave danger it faces. But of course, we now have a facade which perpetuates the illusion of the “split.”

    The Tiananmen Square atrocity in June 1989 provided a clear signal to Chinese dissidents that political perestroika was not about to be permitted in China. Golitsyn explains in The Perestroika Deception that the core demonstrators who appear to have been controlled* and carried banners supporting the Chinese Communist Party suddenly marched out of the Square in formation. The shooting started after they had left; those who were killed were true dissidents who had traveled to Beijing to join in the demonstrations.

    The current spectacle is of “non”-Communism in Russia and overt Communism in China. This preserves the illusion of the “split,” and has provided the backdrop against which the two countries are collaborating in a coordinated military buildup of ominous proportions. The Russian-Chinese military agreement of 1993 has been followed by further accords, and the scale of China’s buildup is now causing serious alarm in Western defense circles, which still do not understand that the two countries are allies.” —

    Three years after KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn defected to the West, China in 1964 began its military support for their North Vietnamese “enemies”, culminating in over 50% of NVA regiments being entirely composed of PRC troops, thereby proving Golitsyn’s earlier warning to the CIA/MI6 that the Sino-Soviet Split was a strategic ruse.

    The New American article reads, “…and the scale of China’s buildup is now causing serious alarm in Western defense circles, which still do not understand that the two countries are allies.”

    In fact, the West does understand (of course!), but the political parties of the West were long ago co-opted by Moscow & Allies…

    While we don’t know when exactly the Democratic Party was co-opted by Marxists, thanks to the peculiar historical nature surrounding the founding of the Republican Party, we do know when exactly the party of Lincoln was co-opted…

    Marxists/Socialists who after the failed 1848 revolution in Germany came to the United States. Upon arrival to the United States they infiltrated the embryonic Republican Party, many forming voluntary Germanic Union Armies and becoming General Officers themselves within the Union Army, such as…

    (1) Brigadier General Joseph WEYDEMEYER of the Union Army was a close friend of Karl MARX and Fredrick Engels in the London Communist League (Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. DANA —close friend of Marx, published with Joseph Weydemyer a number of Communist Journals and, also “The Communist Manifesto,” commissioned by Karl Marx. As a member of the Communist/Socialist Fourier Society in America, Dana was well acquainted with Marx and Marx’s colleague in Communism, Fredrick Engels. Dana, also, was a friend of all Marxists in the Republican Party, offering assistance to them almost upon their arrival on the American continent.);

    (2) Brigadier General Louis BLENKER, Union Army—radical socialist/Communist from Germany—was remarkably successful in encouraging German immigrants to join the Union Army and the Republican Party;

    (3) Major General August WILLICH—often called “The Reddest of the Red ‘48ers” was a member of the London Communist League with Karl MARX and Fredrick ENGLES. Before seeking refuge in the U.S. Willich was a personal acquaintance of Karl MARX;

    (4) Major Robert ROSA, of the Union Army, was a proud member of the New York Communist Club;

    (5) Brigadier General Carl SCHURZ –as a young socialist, was noted for helping Gottfried Kinkel of Bonn escape from Spandau while imprisoned there for his socialist activities in the ’48 Revolts. Schurz came to America in 1848. He was a forty-eighter who became very active in the development of the Republican Party and in politics. He was given a high position by Lincoln in the Union Army;

    (6) Brigadier General Alexander Von Schimmelfenning, like most of the other MARXISTS /Socialist/Communists who came to the U.S. after their failed uprising in 1848;

    (7) Major General Franz SIEGEL, thought to be one of Lincoln’s most controversial and the poorest of his generals;

    (8) Commander Friedrich Karl Franz HECKER, (exact military title not known) known as “Red” and “Flagrant Friedrich.” Educated in Germany, received his doctor of law degree in Munich. He was expelled from Prussia. Arriving in the U.S., he took part in the creation of the Republican Party, encouraged the proliferation of German newspapers carrying the Socialist propaganda, aided in the election of Lincoln, and propagandized heavily among German immigrants for volunteers for the Union Army. He was named Commander of a regiment he raised of Germans;

    (9) General John C. FREMONT was noted for his close association with all of the socialist/communists whom Lincoln placed in positions of command in his army. Fremont was the first Republican candidate for president. He was considered to be the “darling” of the most radical socialists. His chief of staff, early in the war, was Hungarian socialist revolutionary;

    (10) Brevet Major General Frederick Charles SALOMON, one of a group of four radical socialist brothers, with highly similar names– three of whom were in the group of Socialist 1848ers. Frederick began his career in the Union Army as a Captain in MO, wound up as a Colonel in the Ninth Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, then a brigadier general and a brevet major general;

    11. Brevetted Brigadier General Charles E. Salomon, also started his American military career with a bunch of MO volunteers. Born in Prussia, he, also, was one of the radical socialists arriving in the U.S. after the 1848 Socialist uprising failure and was a brother to Frederick Charles;

    12. Governor Edward Salomon, a third Salomon brother, also born in Prussia, did not do military service, but ran for political office in Wisconsin, was elected lieutenant governor, becoming Governor of Wisconsin when the elected Governor “drowned”; and

    13. Colonel Fritz ANNEKE/ANNECKE was a Forty-eighter, with a strong leftward tilt. He was a Communist League member and a Baden Revolt veteran…the list goes on…

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; and (3) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation.

    The next major disinformation operation under the Long-Range Policy will be the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government. When that occurs, Taiwan will be stymied from not joining the mainland. This is why China is buying up gold all over the word. It is believed that China currently has 3,000 [metric] tonnes of gold. When China has 6,000 [metric] tonnes it will have the minimum gold reserves necessary for its currency, the yuan, to replace the United States’ dollar as the world’s reserve currency, that is after the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government (the United States gold reserves is approximately 8,133.5 [metric] tonnes).



    Non-students known as “blackhands” played the most important roles in the movement. According to one movement leader, interviewed in the November/December 1989 CV Magazine, “Blackhands give the students ideas, support them, and bring money. They are the ones who are really in control.” These unidentified persons were described as being older and more experienced than the students. Some of them may well have been members of the Public Security Ministry, Communist China’s secret police.

    A New York Times story released May 1st [forgetting that Communist nations have but one over ridding objective–the “liberation” of the world, which is why Communists exist in the first place!], while insisting that the demonstrations were largely spontaneous, acknowledged that “it is possible that some [Communist party] leaders who favor more rapid change are doing what they can to help the students succeed.” Certainly, most student demonstrators had little idea that they might be pawns in a larger game of disinformation. The same article quoted one student leader as saying, “Those who walk in the front row of the demonstration and get caught are not the most important leaders.”