Xu Youyu (徐友渔), professor and researcher at Philosophy Institute of The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), who has spoken about the democracy movement in China recently this year, writes for the Guardian about the June 4th movement:
For China to leave behind authoritarianism and totalitarianism, there needs to be a deep change. The 4 June incident at Tiananmen Square was the catalyst the Chinese people needed.
The 4 June oppressors had heavy weapons, but no sense of history. They never thought the movement with Tiananmen Square at its heart embodied by college students was, like the 4 May movement, in possession of a natural legitimacy and a quality of "patriotism and democracy". To suppress the students was not only to become an enemy of the people, but also to earn the scorned epithet of "reactionary". They didn't even think of the fact that, only 13 years ago, in the same square, they were among the Chinese people who formed a similar mass movement, who were mercilessly suppressed by the "Gang of Four". And that previous bloodbath paled in comparison with this one.
From 1989 to 2009, the psychology of China's society has undergone an enormous change. Yet the standard of thought and knowledge of the leaders who took the political stage after 89 has not changed. They have not absorbed any lessons from the 89 incident; they took no direction from the process of democratisation in Taiwan.
By contrast, the Chinese people who experienced and inherited the spirit of 89 never stopped learning, thinking and probing. They become more mature by the day. They use their strong will to suffer through the darkness, and use the light of their thought to welcome the future.