June 4 news roundup: National Amnesia Day in China


Photo by Ilaria Maria Sala, as published on Hong Kong Free Press

Note: SupChina was taken down by a DDoS attack on the afternoon of June 4, China time, and was hit again about 12 hours later. This post is backdated from June 6, 7:45 am EST. 

Today is June 4, what wags on Twitter are calling “National Amnesia Day,” the anniversary memorialized in bad pinyin by the Simpsons cartoon as the day when nothing happened at Tiananmen Square (season 16, episode 12).

In my opinion, the best history of the events of 1989 is found in the film Gate of Heavenly Peace, produced by Richard Gordon, Carma Hinton, and Geremie Barmé. You can watch the whole thing for free on YouTube.

Here are a few other things to read and look at that are worth your time:

  • Yesterday, Hu Xijin 胡锡进, editor of the nationalistic tabloid Global Times and a man who knows all about whining, tweeted: “tmr is 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident. Except for commentaries out of obligation or courtesy, there is few mention of it on twitter. What wasn’t achieved through a movement that year will be even more impossible to be realized by holding whiny commemorations today.”

There are, of course, fewer than “few mention” of the anniversary in mainland Chinese media, but he’s wrong about Twitter: Just search for the hashtag #六四 (liùsì — June 4).

  • Wall Street Journal correspondent Josh Chin tweeted“I profiled Chinese dinner-organizing activist Zhang Kun. I recently learned he’s scheduled to stand trial on Wednesday on charges of ‘picking quarrels’… What set him on this path: An accidental encounter with Carma Hinton’s Tiananmen documentary ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’ while surfing Japanese porn sites at an internet bar in Xuzhou.” You can read his story marking the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown here (paywall).

  • “China ties led to ‘MacGyver’ on massacre” was the headline in the Los Angeles Times of a 1989 story about how an executive producer’s experience traveling in China led to an episode of the popular 1980s TV show all about June 4. Here’s a fan-made trailer for the MacGyver episode:

  • “Organizers said 115,000 people showed up for this year’s Tiananmen vigil” in Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post, although police cited lower numbers. We had a correspondent send in these photos:

Pictures of the Day: A rainy-day vigil at Victoria Park, Hong Kong

  • The former top Chinese official in Hong Kong suggested that those who chant the slogan “end one-party dictatorship,” which has been a feature of the Hong Kong Tiananmen vigils every year, “should be barred from running for office,” reports Bloomberg (paywall).
  • “Can a society which has not…come to terms with its own past go on to have a successful future, or do the sins of the past somehow…come back to haunt it and reexpress themselves in some mutant form?” This is a question that the seasoned historian and scholar of China, Orville Schell, is now writing a book on and which he spoke about on a recent Sinica Podcast.