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Friday, June 05, 2009

Tiananmen Square 20 years on

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Few images are as iconic as this one.

Image taken from Eye Catchy Pics, hosting by Photobucket(click on image to view source)

A lone unidentified protester against a column of tanks became the poster child of world wide outrage over what happened 20 years ago on June 4 in Tiananmen Square.

Unbeknownst to many, however, it was this event, in part, that precipitated the radical change that China has undergone over the last two decades.
(a changed China 20 years on,  and more, in the full post)

But to the world, China seemed to remain unrepentant. In the background, however, the government was in the process of going through some pretty radical changes. 20 years on, The Middle Kingdom is an economic force the world has to reckon with.

For those of you too young to remember the events 20 years ago, this Wikipedia write-up provides the essentials of the protests – what precipitated it and the gist of what happened on that bloody day.

A lot has changed in China since 1989. At the same time, many things haven’t. This week, access to online services like Twitter, Flickr, and Hotmail, among others were blocked (via The Guardian UK). Repression of free expression remains one of those things quite alive and well in China.

Coincidentally, the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protest (not to be confused with the 1976 one), also marks 35 years since the late Tun Razak’s visit to China. It is also this week that Najib makes his first official visit to the great nation, once a sponsor and benefactor of the Communist Party of Malaya. A nation which, according to Najib, has never posed a regional threat (via Berita Harian).

No one is accusing Najib of promoting and resurrecting communism by his visit. Walski’s definitely not. And yet, it’s exactly that same accusation that has been thrown at those who have spoken up in support of the suggestion that a certain former CPM leader be allowed home.

Strange. But Walski reckons that sometimes, it’s not the essence of what you say or do, but who you are, that counts.

It would not be surprising if Najib doesn’t say anything about the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests during his visit. After all, back home, the environment of free expression, too, does seem to be shrinking. More so since Najib’s been in office.

So perhaps, in that area too, Najib and his host has something in common – that to control, one has to exert absolute control.

Suffer the black-color, Mickey Mao and Bruce Lee t-shirts, and unauthorized butter cakes…