By Xuefei Chen Axelsson
Stockholm, June 20, (Greenpost) — On April 28, 1989, I was in the Purple Bamboo Park and practised my English. But it happened to be the next day of the largest scale students demonstrations in Beijing.
That was called April 27th Demonstration. Almost all the universities and colleges in Beijing participated in that demonstration. We walked from early morning to late evening. When we arrived in the campus again, it was 21:00.
Students were blocked by the soldiers, but in the end, students broke through and went ahead. I was in the queue of the Renmin University, a little bit in front, but not in the very front, so I didn’t see the soldiers. Later I heard my classmates friends talked about their experience of breaking the soldiers human wall. I thought it was just small group of soldiers. The next day I went to the park to practice my English the same as other sundays.
Because my English was very fluent and I said it was due to the government’s tolerance that the students felt they won. A journalist from Holland carrying a camera wanted film interview me, but I refused. I said this was just my private opinion, I didn’t like to be interviewed.
But 30 years later, I found it was always the extreme remarks were in the circulations. A lot of wrong information or lies in the air. I feel I got to know a little more about the answers for my questions for 30 years.
- The government was very restraint to students. I thought it were just a small group of soldiers to block the students. Now I saw the pictures in the youtube I found that there were many more soldiers blocking the students. But they just used human wall without any weapons. They just did it as an effort, but they were not very determined to stop the students. At that time, as Peking University professor Kong Qingdong recalled, that the students shouted the politically correct slogans that they all support the communist party and they are just against the corruption. So the slogans were supported by the people.
- I thought the students should have come back to the campus after May 19th when the hunger strike were stopped. I was disappointed at Zhao Ziyang’s behavior of crying in the Tiananmen Square. But at that time, Renmin University Radio Beijing called on students to come back to campus to resume courses. Then I thought on May 26, 27 or 28 there were not many students in the Tiananmen Square. I just wonder why the government didn’t take action at that time.
However, there had been students in the Tiananmen Square till the very end. They had never gone back to campus. Student leader Wang Dan announced that the demonstration in the Tiananmen Square stopped on May 30th. But immediately more support from the workers and others. On June 2, when I passed by the Tiananmen Square, I saw Liu Xiaobo and Hou Dejian started the 72 hour hunger strike. By then, the tone totally changed. The workers spoke up and said they wanted to take violent action.
3. Now reviewing the video I saw Cai Ling, the then student leader said she would stay in the square until there was blood shed, then people would understand. Why did she do that? Judging from what she said, the reason is that she knew she was in the black list and she couldn’t go back, she took occupying Tiananmen Square as a main task. This was not the intention of the students at the beginning. The intention was to propose the question and then let the government to solve the problem. I later experienced demonstration in New Zealand, students just shouted some slogans and then resume classes. But Chinese students, some of the radical ones insist on staying there with the support of the Beijing citizens.
4. Why did PLA men shoot? Because the nature of the event changed in the end. One good thing impressed me was that in order to serve the students all the toilets in the surrounding areas of the Tiananmen opened. But the bad thing was that I saw a student from my former university whom I thought was not very good also came to Beijing and joined the queue. Then I felt the event went wrong. Yes, in the end, some bad people participated and under the name of supporting the students began to fight with the PLA men who executed the party and government tasks.
5. The curfew was implemented and people were warned repeatedly not to go to the street. But many citizens or workers still went to the Chang’an Avenue. People simply didn’t listen to the order and they thought the government was too tolerant before and now they took the order for granted. But this time, the order was for PLA men to vacate Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is a holy place not for being occupied for almost a month. The whole country worry about Tiananmen and all the Beijing people stopped working. The traffic was collapsed. That was not normal.
6. In the end, the students withdrew from the Tiananmen Square and the PLA men entered the Tiananmen Square. Three soldiers were burned to death and hanged while about 1000 PLA trucks were burned down.
We had no fear. I went out to teach my students even on June 5th and saw the burnt trucks. But when I arrived in her home, her husband warned me not to come out and be careful.
7. Reflecting the past, I think we had a lot of lessons to draw. First, students shouldn’t occupy the Tiananmen Square for such a long time. At that time, there were debate and some students said they would like to burn themselves for the so called democracy. Was that the purpose?
Second, without many adult people’s support or making use of the students as the shield, the event would not develop to such a large scale. Most senior students didn’t participate in the hunger strike or stay in Tiananmen Square all the time. My classmate Deng Ping simply stayed in the dormitory and wrote a book.
Third, the event got a lot of support from Hong Kong’s supporting federation.
Fourth, suppose there were no another round of hunger strike there wouldn’t be so heavy crowd in the square. In the end, the students was just an excuse and the others came to the front.
Fifth, the Chinese government was very tolerant to students and didn’t take action until the workers showed up illegally because they also got strike from work.
The reflection showed that the background was that the intellectuals income were too low and they were not satisfied with the situation.
Many people reflect this event and felt that the bloodshed were due to lack of experience. Students were too innocent and didn’t understand the big picture. It was also revealed that in the end when some of the students leaders received outside donations they changed their purposes and the students movement went astray from criticizing the government to fighting against the government. Then the nature of the constradiction changed.