During the last mother's Day weekend on May 10th, a number of intellectuals in Beijing organized a seminar discussing 20 years of the democracy movement in China. This is a very significant event in breaking the long silence among intellectuals on the June 4th student movement, as well as in countering the official position on the incident as a ‘riot.’
The speeches at the conference were published online in the past few days via China in Perspective. An anonymous article on ‘China in Perspective’ gives a detailed account of the discussions in the seminar..
There were about 19 participants in the seminar, including: Xu Youyu (徐友渔), Mo Zhixu (莫之许)、Cui Weiping (崔卫平), Hao Jian (郝建), Xu Xiao (徐晓), Zhou Duo (周舵), Liang Xiaoyan (梁晓燕), Qin Hui (秦晖), Guo Yuhua (郭于华), Li Hai (李海), Liu Zili (刘自立), Qian Liqun (钱理群), Teng Biao (滕彪), Tian Xiaoqing (田晓青), Wang Junxiu (王俊秀), Xu Yinong (许医农), 、Yan Yusheng (殷玉生), Zhang Boshu (张博树) and Zhang Yaojie (张耀杰). The seminar began with 3 minutes silence showing the participants’ respect for the Tiananmen mothers and the victims of the June 4th incident.
Qian Liqun started the discussion by explaining the background of the meeting:
Qian presented a paper, ’An incomplete historical mission’, in the seminar reviewing the democracy movement since the 1940s when the Communist Party challenged KMT's authoritarian rule. However, soon after the CCP took control over the State they betrayed the constitutional promise of granting people freedom of speech, expression and assembly etc. The repression of the anti-revolutionary and anti-rightist factions in mid 1950s fully established the CCP's control over all media and publications. A new wave of the democracy movement took place in mid 1970s with the emergence of underground people's publications. This movement was again repressed in 1981 by Deng Xiaoping. Upon reviewing the pamphlets and publications in 1989, Qian pointed out that the Tiananmen student movement is a legacy of democracy movement in China that informs and inspires future quests for political transformation:
Zhou Duo presented his personal account of the happenings from mid April to June 4, 1989. Zhou was a reporter who helped organize media workers rally in support of the student movement and tried to persuade the students to leave Tiananmen before the PLA marched into the square.
Cui Waiping pointed out that the collective silence on the June 4 Incident has demoralized our society and it is now time to end that silence:
A number of presenters such as Xu Yaoyu and Yan Yusheng pointed out that the June 4 incident challenges the legitimacy and ethical grounds of the State’s claim on power. The Party-State has become an interest bloc which must be constantly challenged by the grassroots in the form of mass incidents.
Zhang Boshu criticized the antagonistic rationale and persecution paranoia of the oppressor and ruling oligarchy who see all criticism as ‘conspiracy’ and a threat. On the other side of the coin, Hao Jian pointed out that people also tend to overestimate and exaggerate the irrational aspect of the oppressors.
Zhang Boshu pointed out agreed, saying that:
Xu noted that after June 4, people turned to the constitution for the citizen rights movement. In order to gradually transform the political system, Xu stressed the need for upholding universal values and peaceful means.
Wang Junxui and Tieng Biao highlighted that since 2003 the citizen rights movement has opened a new direction in the democracy movement and Liang Xiaoyin also saw the emergence of volunteer culture in recent years as a positive development of social awareness. Mo Zhixu pointed out that the Internet has been effective in fighting the collective apathy and he believed that more people will join the movement for freedom and democracy.
Edited by Bob Guy