June 4th, 1989

This Thursday will be the 20th “June 4th” after the Spring of 1989.

20 years is a big deal.

The whole country is waiting in anxiety. I’m sure the upper management of all the big Chinese internet companies such as Sina.com, Baidu, Sohu, Tianya, etc. are all sitting on the edge of their seats, praying for June 5th’s peaceful arrival. So are the leaders of China, and local government of Beijing.

As a prelude, both blogger.com and blogspot.com were blocked by Great Firewall of China since mid-May. Rumor goes that other Google services such as docs, picasa, image search etc. would soon to follow. For the communist party, Google has always been the poster bad boy, whenever they have a need for a public flogging, Google has always been the default choice.

My usual routine is a lot less dramatic. It constitutes of digging up what i wrote down in 2004, re-read it and try to remember that Spring in Bejing one more time. Then maybe feeling a bit sad of how the Chinese youth born after the 80’s or 90’s have no knowledge of that Spring because the government has done such a thorough job of suppressing the past. Then i put that piece of writing away, and continue with my current life.

But 20 years is a big deal. I’m forced to think a bit more, not just because the usual angry youth in Chinese BBC protesting the locking down of service, or the ever expanding banned word list used in the crack down on line. It seems that I’m not the only one who is thinking a bit more this year. I’ve read some interesting discussion on various Chinese BBS.

Both on-line and off-line discussion around me seem to conclude that the generation that felt the strongest impact of the Spring of 89 was the generation that was in high school and college during the crackdown (that would including me, i.e. my generation). We were completely disillusioned. Before the crack down, this generation was very enthusiastic about politics, about the fate and future of China and its people. After the crack down, we turned cynical, we looked elsewhere. Most concentrated on getting rich. Many left the country.

The single-mindedness of today’s China, its sole focus on money and nothing else, had a lot to do with my generation’s shock therapy received in the Spring of 1989.

Another interesting side effect of the complete suppressing of the existence of that Spring is that the newer generations know no fear. They had no idea what consequence of speaking their minds would result in. In that way, they grow up more healthy. Maybe when they do decide speak their minds in a grand way, reception they receive will be warmer. That was largely what happened to my generation too, up till the night of June 4th. All of us had heard warnings from our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. They had seen their own share of crack downs, they knew what would come. We didn’t. Now we do.

Let’s wish today’s China is confident enough and brave enough to listen to what they had to say, let’s wish the newer generation will never know what would have come.