Author Archives: Ying

About Ying

University student. China junkie. Aspiring cat lady.

June 5: A Day For Tank Man and Reimagining History

Jeff Widener, AP

Jeff Widener, AP

Also known as the “Unknown Rebel,” Tank Man is the nameless protagonist of a stand off with a column of Type 59 Chinese tanks.  His stance, encapsulated in time on Beijing’s Changan Avenue, is determined. He is slight, wiry in the tradition of a wushu hero perhaps. We’ll never know his face: only the set of his shoulders, and his angry strides.

Tank Man is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, and of course one of the ones most closely associated with the Tiananmen Square Massacre. All over the Internet I’ve seen people attributing the image to June 4th: as if he stood at the front of the Square while the tanks rolled in. Actually, June 5th is his day. And I think it’s important that we remember the distinction. Why? Because June 5th was the day of bald-faced, daylight violence. It was the morning after tanks and troops rolled through Beijing, clearing the Square and shooting residents in their neighborhoods. It’s important because Tank Man saw all of this and stood up anyway. Continue reading

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Filed under Contemporary Chinese History, Current Affairs

I’m a Consequence of Tiananmen

Goddess of Democracy

Built by students, the 33′ high Goddess of Democracy was assembled in Tiananmen Square on the night of May 29-30. Shelley found this picture in a shoebox.

 

The words “惊天” (today) are blocked on Weibo right now. Because we all know what today is. If you’re on this blog, you know what today is. Even the least attentive have been counting down to it while going about our daily lives. And now, the time has finally come to take stock, 25 years later.

My entire life has been lived in the looming presence of the Tiananmen Massacre, but I didn’t understand that until I grew up. It’s not just my life, either. All of China lives there, in the shadow of it. The current regime constantly fights to censor it and keep it suppressed, but even where the Party line succeeds you can still see it from the emptiness: the space where it should be. Sometimes I feel like if I traced my finger back along the origins of any crackdown or power struggle in contemporary China I would end up in the Square on June 4th, 1989 every single time. Continue reading

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Filed under Contemporary Chinese History, Current Affairs, Growing up Asian American