Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Two Years after Tiananmen Square

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Two Years after Tiananmen Square

Article excerpt

In September 1989, when exiled Democracy Movement activists gathered in Paris for the founding ceremony of the Front of Democratic China, official name of the Pro-Democracy Movement organization in exile, it was attended by such dignitaries as officials of the EEC, representatives of major European political parties, envoys from Solidarity, even the movie Yves Montand.

Cai Ling, an inner circle leadership member of the Movement and Commander-in-Chief at Tiananmen Square during the last days of the occupation, was first nominated for the 1990 Nobel Peace Award. She didn't get it. However, she was subsequently given the Elie Wiesel Peace Award for 1990, an award which was set up by the 1986 No el Peace winner himself and supporters.

In early April of this year, one of the Movement's activists in prison in China and two members in US support groups were awarded at the Second conference of North American Support Groups held in Toronto. Main speakers at this conference included the former federal NDP leader, Ed Broadbent, and other Toronto city councilors and officials.

Comparison with Ngo

Dinh Diem

The current spectacle involving the Pro-Democracy Movement in (and for) China since it first appeared in the world scene some two years ago, and the glowing support it has received from various quarters in the West bring to mind the saga of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam during his decade-long exile in the West prior to his ascent to power in 1954.

As we know, the US saw a good thing in him while he was drifting from place to place in Europe and America in the early fifties. It promptly seized the golden opportunity of being able to put a man of its own in Indochina, thereby to root out any residual French colonial presence in that part of Southeast Asia.

Carefully concealing Diem's aristocratic family background and elitism from public view, the US then dressed him up prettily as a champion of democracy and paraded him around, while arguing sternly that he was the best choice for the South Vietnamese people and as such, the sole alternative to the much hated despot, the French-backed Emperor Bao Dai.

The rest is history: Bao Dai and his French masters were out; Diem and his US friends were in. Unfortunately for the Americans however, Diem turned out to be no more a lover of democracy than the deposed emperor. In the end, all three of them: Diem; the string of similarly US backed generals who after having assassinated him and then becoming, one by one, his successors; and the US high Command in Saigon itself; managed among the themselves to lose South Vietnam to lose South Vietnam to the Communists.

In essentially much the same way as it did in the Diem case, the US proceeds to back the Chinese Student Movement activists and promote them as champions of democracy. It also hides from the public the fact that these students by and large are from the upper privileged strata of Chinese society who are notoriously known for their disdain for the common folk. Thus, presto, a deja vu is instantly created for all to see: a virtual re-run of the Diem melodrama.

Two years ago in the early months of 1989 from mid-April to early June the sound and fury of the students from the most prestigious universities and colleges in Beijing and other major Chinese cities wanting the Chinese government to meet their demands, caught the attention of the world.

Subsequently, the brutality of the Chinese government on June 4 in finally removIng the student demonstrators from Tiananmen Square which the demonstrators had occupied for almost a month further shocked the western world.

Much could be made out of the similarities, in terms of family background and political ideology, between Diem and the so-called 'Pro-Democracy' Chinese students. Both are members of the privileged strata in their respective societies. Both espouse the creed of individual freedom. …

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