The whole world fell in love with the students demonstrating at Tiananmen Square

When Chinese students initiated huge demonstrations in Beijing during the spring of 1989, they captivated pretty much everyone – the foreign press, the residents of Beijing, and even Chinese security forces. That’s a point made by Wall Street Journal reporter Adi Ignatius, who covered the movement 25 years ago in China, in this video posted yesterday on the 25th anniversary of the June 4th crackdown. Ignatius also appears in a fantastic documentary produced by Mike Chinoy, former CNN bureau chief in Beijing. I talked with Chinoy for my radio piece that aired on Wednesday. Listen here, and watch the full documentary too. And listen to this great interview from yesterday’s show, in which Aaron Schachter speaks with a young woman from Beijing (and a BBC colleague) about how many Chinese people from the post-Tiananmen generation feel that the June 4th events are sort of irrelevant to their lives.

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About Matthew Bell

Former Middle East Correspondent with PRI's The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH-Boston. It's international news on US public radio stations. And it's good. Check it out here: www.pri.org. Follow @pritheworld
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One Response to The whole world fell in love with the students demonstrating at Tiananmen Square

  1. Matthew Bell says:

    A thoughtful reader writes:

    That was an amazing moment in Aaron Schacter’s interview when the young woman says the word “irrelevant” and he repeats the word, as if he’s not sure he heard correctly. Heartbreaking, after hearing Shen Tong’s melancholic-but-trying-to-be-optimistic interview. I understand, though. In the states, I was the age of the Tiananmenners when they occupied the square in 89, and I completely didn’t understand the stakes of what was happening over there. In retrospect, it’s just so incredible that the people in the Square agitating for reform were so young themselves.

    That was also an amazing moment when the young woman compared her generation to those born in South Africa after apartheid — the ones “born free” who can’t get too hot and bothered about what life was like for their elders. Confusing. Does she consider her generation “free” even as she says that Tiananmen Incident/Massacre did not accomplish anything?

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