Tibet and Tiananmen

This morning I woke up to the radio news report on NPR from China. Of course, it was a report on what was happening there today, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen movement that led to the death of many students and others and the closing of China’s doors, in a way.

From that report and subsequent reading of Chinese media (as well as the Washington Post, which carried comments from several Chinese on the day) I could get the spin that the Chinese Government is using. It would go something like this. ” Today is like any other day. The issue is something that an average Chinee does not care about. Today’s young Chinese, who are mostly post-Tiananmen generation, do not know, and are not interested in, what the Tiananmen issue is all about.”

Tiananmen to me is the awakening of China. It conveyed the message that the Chinese people can and have started becoming responsible citizens of the world who care about the direction of their society.  Some times people tend to use broad brush strokes.

What can we do today? To begin with we could try reading the different messages that are coming out. You can see how Chinese in the free world feel about the day by looking at a sampling of postings on China Digital Times.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also issued a statement today in which he called for a rethinking by the Chinese leadership about the day saying that what the demonstrators asked for was nothing against the Chinese Constitution. He in a way said if China is aspiring for international leadership, it should be ready  for reconciliation on issues like the Tiananmen movement.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her statement, called for “a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal”  during what is called the Tiananmen Massacre (“The June 4 Tiananmen Incident” as it is called by the Chinese media.

One can see the contrast in the messages. What the free Chinese people are saying? What the Chinese Government is trying to project? And, what His Holiness the Dalai Lama and others are saying?

A colleague who monitors developments in China said that it is interesting to see the Chinese people’s attitude towards the Tiananmen movement and the Tibetan movement. He said although it is 20 years since June 4, 1989, there does not seem to be an effort from the Chinese groups inside China to do a study of it (there have been many from outside of China). On the other hand, what happened in March in Tibet last year has been studied by a group of Chinese lawyers and they have already come out with their report that is critical of the Chinese Government policies toward the Tibetan people.

As Buddhists do, we could listen, contemplate and meditate on the implications.


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