An Eye-Witness Account Of The Tiananmen Incident 1989
The following are a Chinese language post penned by 老气横秋 who participated and witnessed the Tiananmen Incident 1989 and its English translation. Photos and captions are added by Fish.
May 18, 1989, Beijing factory workers joined the anti-corruption movement taking place in the Tiananmen Square initiated by university students. The corrupted officials were mainly referring to Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping’s eldest son, and Zhao Dajun, the son of Zhao Ziyang, the general secretary of CCP at the time.
When the Tiananmen Incident occurred in 1989, I was in my last year of study at university. At the time many students mentioned the protest movement at the same breath as the May 4th Movement 1919 and refused to go back to the classroom but devoted to the street protests. Some of them were folks full of revolutionary spirit, others were just followers of the trend or onlookers of the political drama or even the miserable individuals using this opportunity to vent their anti-social urge.
By then a student ID was just like a travel pass: with that, you could board the underground trains, the buses or call taxis – no one would ask you to pay the fare. Ordinary citizens were all willing to help.
A crowded Tiananmen Square during May and early June in 1989
Initially, I was keen to contribute my part in the crusade against the official corruptions in China. In the first two months, I would travel to Tiananmen Square during the day and returned to the campus watching the evening news on television, witnessing the freshly created history unfolding. But gradually I began to question the objectives of and the methods adopted by the movement, and suspect where the “student leaders” really intended to lead us towards. I was rather confused and got sick and tired of the whole thing, and became more an onlooker than a participant. However, I still had great sympathy for the students taking hunger strike on the square, but seriously doubt whether it was worth for them to ruin their health.
The extent of the crowd on the Tiananmen Square during May 1989
On the evening of June 3, while the radio and tv news kept urging people to stay away from the square, some students in the campuses tried to organise larger crowds to block the military convoy and join the protesters in the square. When I heard the troops marched towards the CBD from Pingguoyuan (苹果园) and Bajiaocun (八角村) in the west, I decided to go to take a look with few friends. On the way, we noticed damaged military vehicles, as well as civilian cars. Some of the protesters behaved like thugs who would smash any vehicles on the road. I saw the front window of a car was broken and the driver jumped out to shout angrily at the protesters: “Hi, this is my own car, not the military vehicle, can’t you see it?”
The military vehicles passing the overhead bridge in Xidan in early June 1989
We eventually didn’t go to the square but returned to the campus. Everyone knew what was going to happen on the square that night. To my understanding, those who still headed for the premises on that particular day were three kinds of people: the extremists, the guys who harboured a genuine hatred towards the community in general and their school in particular, or the folks who suffered from severe brain damage.
When we woke up next morning on June 4th, we heard the news saying military force occupied and “blood-washed” Tiananmen Square. We hurriedly counted the fellows in our class and found one person missing. Just when we thought this guy must have tragically given his life to his faith and felt terribly sad about that, this jerk returned in one piece – he paid a visit to a friend and spent a night there.
There were two or three students uncounted for at our university. I don’t know what exactly happened to them. However, during the entire so-called Tiananmen Incident, I did not see one dead body, nor did I hear anyone I personally knew died in the event.
The university was closed afterwards and we went home for a holiday. About three weeks later, everybody returned to the campus, and life resumed again.