25 Years Later, Lessons From Tiananmen Square Crackdown
A quarter century after democracy protests ended in bloodshed, Chinese still clamor for clean government and courts.
Last night I drove through a rain-swept Tiananmen Square. It was dark, silent, eerily deserted—a vast contrast to the unruly scene 25 years ago when I witnessed disheveled hunger-striking protesters sacked out in tents, creating a pro-democracy shantytown.
There was guitar music, and there were banners proclaiming: "I NEED FOOD BUT I'D RATHER DIE FOR DEMOCRACY," and a 33-foot-tall Goddess of Democracy statue erected defiantly at the north end of Tiananmen, staring down a gigantic portrait of Chairman Mao.
"We were so peaceful, so honest," recalled former student leader Wuer Kaixi last week. "So naive." (Related: "Tiananmen Haunts Photographer Brothers After 25 Years.")
Just off the square, I recall marveling at the colonial-style Bank of China building where I did my banking