The following is an eye-twinness account penned in 2009 by 彩云舒, a Beijing scholar. English translation by Fish, photos and captions also added by Fish. 

In 1989, I briefly returned to Beijing for a research project that was jointly carried out by China’s Science Academy and an overseas company and had an opportunity to observe the whole process of the Tiananmen Incident. Now I would like to recount the event I witnessed and experienced.

一九八九年, 由于我临时回国参加我们研究所与国外公司的合作开发项目, 亲身经历了六.四事件并目睹了它前前后后. 在六四的今天, 我只想写一写当年我所看到的和感受到的几个场面而已.

1, The Beginning

The street protest in Beijing was prompted by the mourning for the untimely death of former top CCP leader Hu Yaobang and the feeling of frustration over the widespread corruption during the reform and modernization progress that saw many high officials [in particular their families – Fish] abused their positions by gaining huge profit through their privately-owned companies [which included Zhao Dajun, the son of Hu Yaobang’s successor Zhao Ziyang who later portrayed himself as China’s democracy pioneer in his recently published memoir – Fish]. However, after undergoing ten chaotic years of the Cultural Revolution, the collective mood in China at the time was to maintain a stable political environment in order to reform the economy and raise living standards. Therefore, in the beginning, it was a movement neither initiated by students nor about democracy.

My research institute is situated in Zhongguancun (中关村) which is the base camp for China’s Science Academy and newly established private high tech companies [later known as China’s Silicon Valley – Fish]. During those days, the main talking point in every office was about the surrounding private companies that used their government connections to make massive profits by selling state-owned assets in the name of economic reform. No one organized the rally, but anybody could easily find the details of an impending march including the time and the location from a note stuck on the front door of each office. When that day came, everyone in the Academy, from the members of the National Academic Committee, the deans of the research institutes, the PhD candidates who usually cared about nothing but their projects, to staff in attached workshops, chefs in attached canteens and teachers in attached kindergartens. All coaches were running fully packed, and all bicycles had someone sitting on the rear racks.

Ever since I was a Little Red Guard (红小兵, an official youth organisation during the middle and later stages of the Cultural Revolution for the students in primary and high schools), I had participated in numerous rallies in the Tiananmen Square, but this time the things were quite different: there were no organisers, no pre-prepared banners and no appointed individuals to lead slogan shouting. In fact, anyone in the assembly could shout any slogan as he so wished and everybody would just echo by repeating the phrases. I remember the most frequently used slogans were “crackdown on corrupted officials” and “keep on reform”, with no mention of the so-called democracy. The participants were from all walks of life: from government departments and organisations, state-run enterprises, cultural and arts sectors, universities and colleges, research institutes, and factories located on Beijing’s outskirts. The super broad way of Changan Avenue was so crowded. I’d never seen a rally joined by so many people in my life, and I believe by then most people in the demonstration felt strongly that after years of political turmoil, we wanted to leave the politics behind and just focus on the economy, and by following that direction, we saw great new hope for China.


我记得, 当时的起因是全国人民悼念胡耀邦的同时对社会上贪污腐化现象强烈不满, 尤其是在改革开放中对那些高层领导利用手中的特权谋暴利办公司极为反感和愤恨, 于是从悼念胡耀邦的纪念活动, 发展到反贪官, 反腐蚀的全国性的群众运动.在当时的历史情况下. 经历了十年动乱后, 搞好改革开放是全国人民的心声, 在当时的中国, 人民还没有来得及意识到要求民主的地步, 而且事件的开始是全国人民的自发活动. 并(从)事件的开始来看, 它(并)不是什么学生运动民主运动.

我们研究所在中关村, 在那里有许多研究所和当时成立不久的公司. 记得在全国上下群情激昂的几天里, 在每个办公室里人们议论的主要题目就是对中关村的一些公司如何利用自己的关系搞官倒来发泄不满. 在参加游行的那天, 所里没有人领导, 只可以看到各个研究室的门上贴着小纸条, 写着如果愿意参加游行的话, 在什么时间什么地点集合. 那一天,从院里的学部委员, 研究所所长到所办工厂的工人和食堂的大师傅, 从所里的平时只专心业务的博士生到所幼儿园的阿姨们都自发地参加了, 出发的人们把所里的几辆班车挤得满满的, 骑自行车去的后面都带着人.

从我还是个红小兵的时候起, 我就开始到天安门参加各种的游行活动了, 可这次比以往都不同, 没有组织, 没有高举什么写好的大标语, 没有固定的人带着高呼口号.在队伍中, 是谁愿意带领喊谁就喊, 大家就跟着这个人喊, 喊的口号都是发自每个人的内心, 我记得当时我们喊的口号是”打倒贪官”, “继承胡耀邦的遗志把改革开放进行到底”什么的, 根本没有人喊什么要求民主之类的口号. 那天, 北京的各企业, 各文化部门, 各大专院校, 各研究部门, 许多工厂, 甚至郊区的工厂的人们都赶来参加了游行. 通往天安门那宽宽的长安街上,  由于满是行走的游行的人, 显得很狭窄了, 就连两旁的便道都走着游行的队伍, 在这之前, 我从没看到过这样的盛况空前的游行场面. 我相信,每个参加游行的人都和我一样, 我们在搞了多年的政治运动后, 终于迎来了国家的改革开放, 要把经济搞上去, 大家看到了中国的春天和希望.

2, An Abrupt Change in the Nature of the Protest

One day when we were talking about the rallies in the office, a colleague whose wife worked at Beijing University bumped into the room and reported that a wall post was found in the campus, which openly attacked the top leader by his name and demanded to change China’s political system.

Everyone heard the news was shocked and had a sense of disbelief. One colleague immediately jumped on his bike and rode towards the university. Soon he returned with the full text on the post he hand-coped.

We were quite disturbed by the unexpected development of the event. Our initial inspiration was to help clear the way for economic reform, and no one wanted to see another revolution occur in China. That day, after viewing the post, everyone became silent and mentioned no more about the rally. All the excitement over the demonstration was lost, and from that day one, nobody in the institute ever joined the rally in Tiananmen Square again.

By the time the street rally developed into a student hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, the whole movement quickly lost wide support from the general public. When seeing the top leaders in the government met with “student representatives” but the latter held a hard-line stance and used hunger strikes to threaten the authority to meet all their unpractical demands, people began to switch sides because to bring down the government and change the national constitution were not what they wished to happen.


在那全国上下群情   激昂的日子了, 大家都很关注党中央的反映和事态的变化, 不少小道消息大家议论着, 这好象成了研究室内每个人谈话的热点. 忽然有一天, 我们室里的一个研究员, 他的妻子在北大任教, 他跑来说北大发现了张小字报, 其内容是直接点名攻击中央的某领导人, 并提出要改变国家政治制度什么的. 记得当时研究室的同志们都很震惊不大相信, 室里有个人干脆骑上自行车直奔北大. 据说, 他看到北大看这张小字报的人挤得水泄不通. 他真还把那张小字报手抄了回来, 大家争相传看, 之后大都是摇头不赞同. 是啊, 我们参加游行是希望中国能够加快提高科学技术水平, 提高人民的生活水平, 把改革开放好好地搞下去, 我们真是不想再搞什么政治运动了.

那天研究室的同志们变得沉默了, 兴奋的心情没有了,人们好像预感到一种不安和忧虑. 从那天起, 研究室里没有人再到天安门广场去游行了.

在事态发展到学生绝食时, 并没有得到社会各界的全面支持, 直到中央领导同志接见学生代表, 大家在电视里看到的是学生代表们用绝食来要求满足一些不切实际的要求, 表现出来的十分强硬态度, 这已经不是广大人民参加游行悼念胡耀邦和反贪官反腐蚀的初衷了. 当时, 人民只想安定团结, 搞经济, 不想反党反对当时的政治制度, 还没有争取民主的强烈意识. 所以在当时, 学生绝食的运动没有得到大多数北京市民的支持, 当然也不会像历史上的五四运动那样, 得到全国各界人士的罢工游行示威得以成功了.

3 The Role of the Hostile External Forces

The situation soon became confrontational. In Beijing and Tsinghua Universities, giant wall posts kept emerging, most signed by overseas intellectuals, calling for overthrowing the Chinese government and restructuring the Chinese constitution according to Americans’ proposal.

During the students’ hunger strike, I visited Tiananmen square several times and noticed a large number of Western journalists – mainly from the United States – as well as reporters from Taiwan. Once when I tried to get closer to a group of local residents who were reasoning with the students and urging them to end the hunger strike on the square, I was roughly pushed aside by some men carrying camera equipment on their shoulders, shouting aloud with an arrogant expression in their face, “Out of my way, out of my way, I’m a Taiwan journalist. We need to talk to somebody in the Student Headquarters.” When I saw these thug-like jerks indeed squeezed their way into the “headquarters” and held a meeting with the “student leaders”, I felt so sick. What was the business of these Taiwan journalists here!

On the evening of June 2, I went to the square again and chatted with the students on hunger strike. Some of them traveled to Beijing from the universities located in other parts of China, many were amazingly naive but incredibly sincere about their course, and all were distributed leaflets by the “headquarters”. When asked what would be their next move, they simply replied that they would just follow the orders of the “student leaders”. But can you figure out what their “leaders” were doing at that time? I learned from a reliable source that they were having dinner at the Beijing Hotel with Journalists from the United States. At that moment I felt so sorry for those hungry students sitting on the filthy square.

Two days later, when the students allegedly shed their blood in the square (the allegation was seriously challenged by all eyewitnesses), the “student leaders” had already disappeared from the mainland of China – they flew to the West that sponsored their actions as pre-arranged. I think nothing is more pathetic and tragic than this.

3 国外各种势力的界入:

随着事态的发展, 北大, 清华, 人大校园里, 攻击党, 攻击社会主义制度的大字报不断出现, 接着就开始出现了笔者大都是海外学士们的反华大字报, 什么中国要改变现行的选举制度, 要打倒党中央的领导人, 中国应学美国的选举制度, 中国还处于封建制度下, 不建立民主制度中国没有希望等等, 甚至出现了打倒共产党的文章.

学生绝食时, 我曾去过几次天安门看看事态的发展, 在那里有许多外国记者, 更多的是美国和台湾的记者. 记得一次, 我来到绝食学生的地方, 正有许多前来的北京市民在那里相劝学生不要在天安门广场绝食和学生攀谈. 我很想挤进簇拥着很多人的学生运动指挥中心附近, 听一听学生领袖们在谈论什么, 这时几个男人, 扛这摄影器材, 脸上流露出很傲慢的神情, 边挤边大声说, “让开让开, 我是台湾记者, 我们要和学生运动指挥中心的人见面”. 当他们挤进了学生运动指挥中心, 他们真的在开会了. 我当时感到很不舒服, 这些台湾记者跑到这里干什么!

就在六四的前两天晚上, 我和许多北京市民一样, 到天安门广场看望静坐的学生们, 他们当中有不少外地跑来的学生, 和他们交谈能够感觉到他们很单纯和充满热情, 他们手中有许多学生运动指挥中心发下来的传单. 问这些学生的下一步的行动, 他们都说听学生运动领导的指挥. 你可知道当时学生运动指挥中心的学生领袖们在干什么? 从一个静坐的小负责人那里得知, 学生领袖们正在和美国记者们在北京饭店吃饭和开会呢! 可怜这些绝食和静坐的学生们啊.

另外, 众所周知, 就在六四那天, 学生们在天安门流血(如果真是事实的话), 几乎所有的学生领袖们却从中国的土地上销声匿迹了, 乘飞机飞往曾支持他们的民主国家了, 想起来真让人觉得可悲.

4, On the Eve of and the Day of June 4th

The weather on June 3, 1989, was pretty hot and dry. In the newspapers, on the radio and television, there were warnings from the authority, urging people to leave Tiananmen Square without delay, and informing the public that the military troops had already been on their way to enforce martial law on the premises. That day the access to the underground trains was blocked, and it was rumoured that the trains were used to transfer the troops from the outskirts to the CBD. All the office directors in the research institutes took the responsibility of informing staff to stay away from the square and asking the staff to persuade their relatives and friends not to go to the area where the curfew was imposed.

A man defied martial law and obstructed the officers’ operation by boldly standing before the armoured vehicles because he knew the PLA soldiers would not shoot him. They didn’t. 

In the evening, shortly after dinner and before the sky grew fully dark, the weather cooled down with gentle breezes in the air. But no one felt at ease. In the residential block where my family lived, there were people working at the Research Institutes of Mathematics, of Sensitisation, of Chemistry, of Physics, of Zoology, of Computing, of Software, of Automation, and at Academy’s Computer Centre and Academy’s high-tech company, as well as the teachers from the nearby universities and from Zhongguancun Primary School … all of us walked out of our home and headed south towards the direction of the People’s University.

When we reached the front entrance of the University, the time was about 9 pm. I was surprised to see such a big crowd there: people were everywhere, inside the gate, outside the gate. And before the gate, the mass congregated on the streets extended to 200 to 300 metres in both ways. Several loudspeakers at the entrance uttered conflicting messages: one from the Chinese radio station was there warning people to stay away from the square, and another from the Voice of America promoting open confrontation with the Chinese government, and some students also spoke through the loudspeakers urging people to go to the square.

People listened to the broadcasts, discussed, and sensed that something big might soon happen. Through a loudspeaker, a young man yelled at the crowd, “Our student demonstration is supported by governments all over the world,” and reported what the governments of the United States, of Australia, of France had said, and how many overseas Chinese organizations had offered their financial support to the movement …

Then we saw a truck coming from the direction of Zhongguancun at a high speed running towards the CBD in the south. There were just two students in the vehicle, both waved a little banner and had a white band on the forehead with blood-red words on the band reading “Die for Democracy”. When the truck passed the crowd, it slowed down and a student standing at the door cried out: “It’s time to fight for democracy, brothers and sisters, come on board, let us shed our blood ….”

Initially, the whole crowd on the street was silent, just watching the students on the truck. Then somebody shouted at the students, “Young men, don’t die for nothing, the democracy won’t come this way!” And many other voices from the crowd echoed the message and urged the students, “Don’t go there!” “Don’t go!” But the truck speeded up and charged towards the direction of Tiananmen Square.

The night deepened, but the two loudspeakers were still broadcasting conflicting messages. The crowd gradually dispersed and returned home to Zhongguancun.

In the early morning, we all woke up suddenly by the rowdy radio broadcast in the streets, which was from the Voice of America. The vociferous propaganda of the United States was soon followed by the sound of heavy vehicles, repeatedly driving from afar then rolling away; and the strong beams reflected on walls, now light, now dark. The message from the Voice of America in a raw and pretentious mandarin kept pronouncing: “The government of the United States has strongly condemned the military crackdown on a pro-democracy student movement …” I thought to myself by then: if not because of you anti-China Americans, the situation in China could be much better.


一九八九年的六月三日北京的天气很闷热, 从报纸, 电台和电视里, 不断地传来党中央的声音, 警告大家要立刻离开天安门广场, 军队已开赴现场. 当天所有的地下铁都关闭了, 人们说解放军正在利用地下铁进驻天安门. 研究所的室主任们都传达了相同的精神, 要大家不要去天安门, 并劝说周围的亲戚和朋友们.

那天的晚上, 吃过晚饭后, 天还没完全黑, 已不再是那么闷热了, 徐徐的晚风吹来使人感到一种舒适的凉意, 但每个人的心情却并不那么轻松. 我们居住的楼里有数学所的, 感光所的, 化学所的, 物理所的, 动物所的, 计算所的, 软件所的, 自动化所的, 计算中心的, 科学院公司的, 附近大学的老师, 中关村小学的老师… 大家在家里呆不住, 不约而同地散步向着中国人民大学的方向.

从中关村漫步来到人大的校门口时, 大约是晚上9点了, 真没想到已聚集了那么多的人, 学校门里门外, 大街上的两旁伸延的两三百米内都站满了人. 人大的门前, 挂着几个大喇叭, 在一边的大喇叭里播放着电台的广播要北京市民立刻离开天安门广场的最后通告, 另一边的大喇叭里播放着美国之音和几个学生在鼓动大家前往天安门什么的.

人们听着, 议论着, 每人都在预料着什么将要发生. 从大喇叭里, 一个学生在声嘶力竭地喊着: ”我们学生的民主运动已得到全世界各国政府的支持” 接着从大喇叭里传出美国的新闻报道说了什么什么, 澳大利亚政府说了什么什么, 法国政府说了什么什么, 学生民主运动如何得到了海外爱国团体的资金上的资助什么什么的 …

一会儿, 从中关村的方向飞驶而来一辆卡车, 上面只坐着一两个人, 有一个人站在车门边, 他们的头部都缠上白色的绷带, 上面用红血色写着为民主而死, 手中拿着小旗子. 当这辆卡车驶到人大门口时, 车速减慢, 那个站在车门的年轻学生向人群大喊着: ”为民主而斗争的时刻来了, 兄弟姐妹们上车吧, 用我们的鲜血 …”

人们站在原地, 静静地望着那辆车, 没有一个人动弹, 从人群中不知是谁突然大声喊道 ”年轻人, 别不要命了, 民主不是这样能换来的!”, 接着有不少的人们附和着喊到 “不要去!”…”不要去!”. 可那辆卡车还是一个加速向城里急速驶去…

深夜了, 那人大门前的两个大喇叭还没有停止播放, 人们渐渐散去了, 大多数的人们在往中关村的方向散去了, 消失了在夜幕中.

已经是深夜了, 中关村的居民楼区已是很安静了, 家家都已安睡了吧, 也许这只是表面上的平静. 好象是已过凌晨了, 听到了外面传来了收音机的播放声, 那是美国之音电台的中文广播. 随着大声的喧哗声, 听到了车辆的马达声, 由远而近, 由近而远 … 由远而近, 雪白的车灯一会儿反射在屋里的墙壁上一会消失, 让人无法入睡 … 我听着那令人讨厌软软绵绵的普通话 ”美国政府谴责中国政府, 用军队镇压学生运动 … ” 不时地响在中关村的一条条街上, 我当时想: 要不是你们这些反华分子在捣乱, 事情会发展得好些呢.

The Aftermath

On the early morning of June 5, I jumped on my bike and rode from Zhongguancun to my parents’s home in the inner city and found they were still asleep. After learning that everyone in my family was safe and well, I continued my journey towards Tiananmen Square.

When I arrived at the cross-section of Changan Avenue (长安街) and Xidan (西单), my advance was blocked. Holding my bike, I looked in the direction of Tiananmen Square. I could not see one person in the street, nor did I detect any trace of blood or the sign of blood being washed away. All around was quiet, only the guards at barriers watching me with a soft look.

Chang’an Avenue on June 5, 1989

Eventually, I met a man who, like me, got up early and hurried to the site to check what had happened. He told me that on Congwenmen Avenue (崇文门大桥) a PLA soldier was burned by mobs. I rushed to the spot. When approaching, I sensed a strong burning smell in the air and saw several military officers trying to take down a badly burned body that had turned black … a big crowd was at the scene and talked about how this soldier was beaten to death by a group of students who then hang the dead body by the feet from an overpass bridge and lit the fire. Everyone who heard the story felt outraged towards the murderous gang. Later that day I learned from the radio that there were three military officers killed by the mobs.

One of my neighbour, a young engineer, told me that he and his colleagues planned to take a look at the square on the eve of June 4, but were repeatedly urged to leave by people on the way. He followed the advice and returned home but his colleague, a technician at a workshop, insisted to go there to watch the “show”. He was subsequently hit by a bullet in the head and died. This is the only death toll in the vast area of Zhongguancun as far as I know.

Another dead incident I personally knew relates to my father’s friend who was a high school president and died of a stroke when received the news that one of the students in his school was shot. That boy wasn’t interested in politics or democracy at all – he might just go there to watch the “show” as my neighbour’s colleague did.

A few months later I returned to Japan to resume my work there and was invited to a Japanese colleague’s home for dinner. He was a man of integrity and independent thinking, but when mentioned the June 4 incident, he became extremely angry towards Chinese authorities and showed me a [fake] videotape of the alleged massacre of the students by the military forces in Tiananmen Square. I understood his feeling, and found it very difficult to correct his false impression of the whole event since the propaganda by the overseas media were [and still are – Fish] so biased and provocative.

Later I came to Canada and befriended a Chinese couple running a grocery store. They told me that they only graduated from junior high, which made me marvel at how on earth they would be able to gain permanent residency in Canada with their qualification. They grinned and replied: All because of the Tiananmen Incident, basically once you claimed you were a political refugee from China, you would be rewarded with Canadian citizenship. Simple as that.


第二天清晨, 我骑上自行车, 从中关村直奔城里, 先惊醒了还在入睡的父母, 得知家人都好, 就骑着自行车往天安门的方向奔去.

长安街和西单的交叉路口仍被封锁着, 我推着自行车, 站在交叉路口向天安门的方向远远望去, 大街上没有一个人, 静悄悄的, 长安街上没有血迹也没有清洗过的痕迹, 把守路口的解放军站在那里温和地看着我.

我碰见了一个和我一样一大早就赶来的人, 他告诉我, 在崇文门大桥有个解放军被打死了. 我立刻骑着自行车赶到崇文门, 我立刻闻到了焦糊的气味, 几个解放军正在把一个烧焦的黑呼呼倒吊着的尸体解下来 … 好多围观的人在那里看, 听说这个解放军是被学生们活活打死后, 把尸体倒吊挂着烧成这个样子的, 在场的市民们都很气愤. 后来听当天的电台的广播说有三名解放军被打死了.

和我同住一个楼的年轻工程师告诉我, 他和他所里的朋友那个晚上一同骑车去天安门看热闹, 在途中几次被好心的人相劝不要往前了, 结果他掉头回了家, 可是他的那位朋友执意要去, 结果枪的子弹打在脑袋上送了命, 其实他本人对政治不大关心, 是个很普通的所办工厂的工人. 我的这位邻居总是庆幸地说他多亏听了好心人的劝说才保住了命. 这是我知道在中关村地区 (包括各个研究所和那里的大学, 中学和小学) 仅有的一名死者.

再有, 我父亲的好朋友是北京一所中学的校长, 因一名在校生六四时被枪打死, 他听到这个消息后, 脑溢血立刻死亡, 而那个被打死的初中生是个平时学习成绩不太好, 根本就是不关心政治的孩子.


几个月后, 我返回日本, 我日本公司的好友邀请我去他家作客. 他是个很认真正直的读书人, 他热爱中国的文化, 很有自己的见解. 在言谈话语中, 他谈到六四天安门事件, 对中国政府的行为极为气愤和不满, 并给我播放了他的有关天安门军队在枪杀学生的录像. 我很理解他的感受, 同时也很难向他解释六四天安门事件的真实面目. 我认为国外对的六四天安门事件的宣传很片面, 很有挑动性.

我在加拿大认识一对勤劳致富的中国夫妇, 是我的好朋友. 他们开了一家副食店, 经营得很不错. 他们很坦率地告诉我他们只有初中文化,是偷偷混入加拿大的. 我不禁就问他们了, 那你们是怎样获得加拿大籍的呢, 他们一笑复之说因为六四呀, 当年我们只要说我们是政治避难就可以入籍了.

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