My recent trip to Guilin, China, provided greater insight to the ‘rural’ tourism developments within the great economic powerhouse. However, a slight inconvenience while in China was their internet censorship, aka the Great Firewall, as a result of the nation’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) “Golden Shield Project.”
Ahead of the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4th, 1989, an open letter signed by 11 Chinese students studying at universities around the world has been circulating since around May 20th and has been causing quite the controversies within China.
Today’s Quartz article “The Chinese government’s new censorship target: itself,” points out level of censorship and propaganda the nation is undertaking. It highlights the unintended consequence of attempting to throw propaganda at what seems to be a more informed set of citizens in China these days, as it says “As with most government-backed statements, the Global Times’ hysterical response was widely reposted across the internet by state-run media. That, no doubt, gave the letter more attention than it would have gotten on its own. To make matters worse for the government censors, the letter was posted as a Google Form, which allowed readers to add their names to the list of signatories, vastly increasing the letter’s reach.”
The hysterical response by Global Times has been copy and pasted below in case the editorial piece gets taken down:
- “Eleven Chinese students born in the 1980s or 1990s and studying in the US recently signed an open letter to their counterparts in the mainland. The letter carries their extreme views on the 1989 Tiananmen incident in the tone that used to be adopted by much older pro-democracy activists. It harshly attacked the current Chinese regime, twisting the facts of 26 years ago with narratives of some overseas hostile forces. Generally, even if changes in thought do take place, it’s unlikely for mainland students who study in the US to lash out at their homeland in such an insulting way.
The open letter claimed that the post-1980s and post-1990s generations in the mainland have been fooled and they couldn’t get to know the “truth” of the 1989 Tiananmen incident until they moved abroad to study, where they can get unlimited access to the Internet. However, it’s well-known that Internet censorship cannot prevent people acquiring sensitive information from overseas websites. The signatories mistake their own closed mindsets as the syndrome of the whole society. If the letter is truly written by a few students overseas, we have to say that those young people have been brainwashed in foreign countries, copying the paranoid minority overseas.
It’s the students who participated in the Tiananmen incident who have the final say over the issue. At a time when the group, in their 50s nowadays, still play an active role in Chinese society, young students, if truly interested in what happened then, should figure out the attitude of the participants and respect their collective recognition.
A majority of those student activists 26 years ago threw themselves into China’s reform and opening-up in the aftermath of the incident. As creators of China’s remarkable achievements, they have shared destiny with the country and witnessed the country’s profound changes over the past 26 years. Most of them through introspection now interpret the 1989 incident in a different way to their youth. China’s progress, the Soviet Union’s disintegration and turbulence in many other countries have fashioned their new understanding. The pro-democracy activists exiled in the Western countries after the incident are a very small part. Most have detached themselves from politics while a minority of the minority are stuck with the old stance, financially aided and manipulated by overseas hostile forces to upset China. The latter have alienated themselves from both the progress and national interests of China.
Chinese society has reached a consensus on not debating the 1989 incident. Students born in the 1980s and 1990s have become the new targets of overseas hostile forces. When China is moving forward, some are trying to drag up history in an attempt to tear apart society. It’s a meaningless attempt and is unlikely to be realized.“
As the Massacre occurred in 1989, in China, and prior to the ability for information to travel across the internet so freely as it does today, there will simply be no way of knowing the truth behind the unfortunate events. While some have speculated that Chinese officials entered the 1989 protests on the last day to bring illegitimacy to the student’s democracy movement, this unfortunately remains pure speculation, regardless of how well-informed this statement could be.
In any event, result of the 1989 protests shine a bright light on the manner by which the recent Hong Kong ‘umbrella’ movement was dealt with by the Hong Kong SAR government. However, recent attempts to spread the umbrella movement abroad have been stopped, as Malaysia recently deported the movement’s ‘darling’ Joshua Wong back to Hong Kong before he could speak. This could be a slight hint to the tents that are still situated outside the Hong Kong Central Government Complex that is simply taking the movement too far.
The hysterical response is a result of the open letter written in Chinese that can be found here, with an English translation provided by China Change here. The English translation will be reblogged in a latter post.
The fact that children of top Chinese officials and business leaders have been and are being educated at the top universities around the world, poses a striking question: does the CCP have genuine concerns over the long-term legitimacy of their party?
On an alternative note, the Chinese anti-current-political-structure propaganda is not the first of its kind. The hysterical response smells of the same sentiment the US had in their anti-communist propaganda (pictured below). You can check out a fantastic gallery of anti-communist culture from our shared history at OpenCulture, WebUrbanist, and io9.