Today marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. In these protests–also known as the June Forth Incident, hundreds or possibly thousands (the number of casualties is covered up by the Chinese government) of protesters were gunned down by armed military troops who were trying to advance towards Tiananmen Square. Today we would like to remember the horrible events in hopes that the ideals that protesters fought for can still be achieved in the future.
The students and civilians protested for reasonable things–like freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and other democratic ideals. One famous instance of nonviolent protest is “Tank man” in which a civilian stood in front of a tank line and refused to move. Even now in 2018, the Tiananmen square is still a closely guarded center of political propaganda.
Philip Cunningham of BangKokPost writes that “To get inside the square I had to show my passport, visa and was subject to a screening as stern as that in many an airport, and then I was watched, on camera and in person and by roving security vehicles.”
Once inside, Cunningham realized that he was “inside a fenced in, gun-guarded open-air cage akin to a giant prison yard.” The fact that the Chinese government is still protecting the square with a heavy police presence some 29 years later, speaks volumes about how China has barely made any progress towards the goals fought for by protesters in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Even now in China, users cannot access barely any forms of online news that is uncensored, and a large majority of websites that are platforms for free speech not controlled by the Chinese government are blocked–like Twitter, Facebook, and other apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. The only websites and news agencies operating in China are government controlled which means there is no freedom of speech or freedom of press.