The Meaning of Tiananmen; Communism's History Is Always Written in Blood

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Tiananmen Square is the symbolic heart of Beijing, but 20 years ago today, it bled real blood.

We may never know how many Chinese died when the tanks and hard-faced soldiers poured into the square - estimates range from 184 to 2,600 - but we will never forget why they died.

Those Chinese patriots died to banish two cruel ideas from the face of the Earth. The first is that the desire for freedom is not universal, that individual rights are a Western creation forced on a different culture that has its own values. We have always been puzzled when so-called liberals tell us freedom is some kind of foreign colonization when we know it grows naturally in every soil. Those brave students and workers who met for weeks on the square and built what they called the Goddess of Liberty or Goddess of Democracy - in form and meaning akin to our Statue of Liberty - were signaling that their aspirations were like ours. They too wanted the freedom to speak, believe, petition, buy, sell, make and move. They didn't want to flee to America, although many later did; they wanted to bring America to China.

The other notion that died on June 3 and 4, 1989, was that the Chinese Communists rule by the consent of the governed. It had become fashionable to presume that the late 1970s economic reforms that had lifted China out of the abject misery of communist-imposed poverty had satisfied the restive population. …