25 Years Ago: A Lesson in Polite Protest
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. The full series can be read here.
From the May 7, 1989 New York Times:
For anyone tempted to think that rebellious Chinese students must be fighting for capitalism and multi-party democracy, a banner fluttering over People’s University marchers on Thursday was a rude shock. It read, ”We firmly support the correct leadership of the Communist Party.”
If South Korean university students are at the militant extreme, totally rejecting the Government and battering lines of police with firebombs and wooden staves, then Chinese demonstrators are at the peaceful extreme.
They sometimes go out of their way to say nice things about the Communist Party, even when it is clear they do not believe them, and they overwhelm the police as much with courtesy as with force.
When approaching lines of the police, the students try to ingratiate themselves by chanting, ”The people love the people’s police; the people’s police love the people.” After some hard pushing, but never any blows, the police usually give way to the students.
[This series was originally posted by CDT in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the protests. If you have access to additional sources of original reporting, video, accounts or photos from the spring of 1989, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider including them in this series. Many thanks.]