The recent protests in Hong Kong raise fears of a repeat of the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. I point out in my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements the paranoia that is the Chinese Communist Party‘s (CCP) Tiananmen Syndrome:
Once Bitten by a Snake, One Is Scared All One’s Life at the Mere Sight of a Rope
The above is a popular Chinese saying often used as a metaphor to describe the persistent fear after a traumatic event.
It is understandable that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) felt threatened by the mass protests of Falun Gong, an organisation that popularises a kind of qigong, a breathing technique to improve health and treat some diseases; the CCP had to ban it. There were so many people practicing Falun Gong, they could be regarded as a political organisation able to confront the Party.
It is also understandable that Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was jailed for eleven years for his role in advocating Charter 08, that calls for greater freedom of expression, human rights and multi-party democracy though his campaign got nowhere in China. Within six months, only 8,600 of China’s over one billion people had put their signatures on the document. Since Liu had participated in the Tiananmen Protests and had been jailed for that, it was only natural for the CCP to punish him again when he continued such activities, no matter whether he had violated the law or not.
However, it puzzled everyone that Zhao Lianhai, founder of the Home for Kidney Stone Babies, a concern group for victims of melamine-poisoned milk, was brought to court in handcuffs and shackles for fighting for victimised babies’ rights. The handcuffs were not removed until his lawyers protested, but his feet remained in shackles for hours throughout the hearing. What felony did he commit so as to be humiliated like that?
According to his prosecutor, Zhao Lianhai “maliciously made the tainted milk incident an issue on the Internet, instigated and gathered people to shout slogans and hold illegal assemblies and thus seriously disrupted public order.” In fact, Zhao’s website helped families with babies poisoned by tainted milk share their experiences, maintained a database of medical records and provided practical help such as medical information about children sick due to tainted milk. Since the government itself made public the evils done by the enterprises that sold the tainted milk and the trials and verdicts of the cases of the managers of those enterprises, why was Zhao’s website wrong in doing so?
As reported by Hong Kong and Western media, the prosecutor knew well himself that the protests lead by Zhao Lianhai were entirely peaceful and gave rise to no serious disturbance. The protesters merely shouted some slogans and held some assemblies without permission. Article 290 of China’s Criminal Law provides, “Where people are gathered to disturb public order to such a serious extent that work in general, production, business operation, teaching or scientific research cannot go on and heavy losses are caused, the ringleaders shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than seven years;” Since no work in general, production, business operation, teaching or scientific research was affected nor any losses caused, the disturbance was by no means serious. There is, therefore, no ground to prosecute Zhao!
As for holding some harmless assemblies without permission, Zhao Lianhai contacted government officials time and again, but was pressured instead of supported by them. Since government officials tried hard to cover up the evils done, how could Zhao get permission for the assemblies? Zhao and others were justified in holding peaceful assemblies without permission. They had such rights according to China’s constitution.
Having seen all the good things the CCP has done for the people in providing medical insurance, pensions, housing, etc. for workers and peasants and giving relief to earthquake-, mudslide- and draught-stricken areas, people cannot help but wonder why the government has no sympathy for parents of melamine-poisoned babies. The only baby a couple is allowed to have has been poisoned and no one knows how the poison will affect the baby’s health in the future. Thanks to Zhao Lianhai’s leadership, those parents restrained their anger and protested peacefully. Should the government not make allowance for that?
Moreover, Zhao Lianhai’s own only baby had kidney stones due to the tainted milk. How can he be accused of maliciously exploiting the incident to make trouble? As a victim’s father, Zhao himself has the right to express his anger peacefully on the Internet and in the streets. Is the CCP’s [tformer] op leader Hu Jintao’s “putting the people first” in his Scientific Outlook on Development empty talk? No, judging by what Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had done, they did put the people first in many things they had done. Why was Zhao Lianhai treated so callously then?
CCP’s Tiananmen Syndrome
The attack that the CCP suffered from the Tiananmen Protests was like the bite of a snake, which threatened the Party’s very survival. The protests led by Zhao Lianhai, though quite harmless like a rope compared with the “snake” of the Tiananmen Protests. The CCP was scared, just as described by the Chinese saying that served as the first subheading: “Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all one’s life at the mere sight of a rope.” That was why the CCP made such a show to humiliate and punish Zhao Lianhai. I would like to call this the CCP’s Tiananmen Syndrome. It makes the CCP suppress any mass protest whatever in order to prevent such protest from growing into one like the Tiananmen Protests that may threaten the CCP’s monopoly of state power.
Knowing the above, one will not be surprised that Reuters gives its report today the title “Hong Kong protests a ‘national security issue’ for China.”
The writer of the report is correct in mentioning the separatist trend in the Umbrella Movement. It is natural that those who fight for democracy may believe that they may achieve true democracy if Hong Kong is an independent state.
However, that will give democracy fighters a dangerous label, as separatism is a heinous crime in Chinese law, while democracy is a citizen’s right advocated in the Chinese constitution, though such provision on democracy has not been implemented.
When Chinese troops fired at democracy fighters during the Tiananmen Massacre, they killed democracy fighters for their “counter-revolutionary crime” instead of their fight for democracy!
Hong Kong democracy fighters, be careful to avoid that dangerous label!
The following is the full text of the report:
Hong Kong protests a ‘national security issue’ for China
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests have escalated into a national security issue threatening Chinese sovereignty over the Asian financial centre, a delegate to China’s rubber-stamp parliament said on Thursday.
Businessman and lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said support for Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was crucial to the city’s future stability and there was no longer any room to remain neutral.
The protesters have blocked key intersections for a month in their demand for fully-democratic elections for the city’s next chief executive in 2017. Beijing has said it will only allow a vote among pre-screened candidates.
While the protests have remained largely peaceful, flashes of violence and dramatic images of students dressed in raincoats and safety goggles using umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas and pepper spray have reared a new political consciousness in the city of seven million.
“Because China has declared there are foreign forces and political influence behind Occupy Central, it has been elevated to a national security issue,” Tien said, referring to one of the protest groups.
“They are not fighting for democracy. They are fighting for independence. We are dealing with a sovereignty issue… Occupy Central is asking for complete democracy, something that only an independent state can provide.”
Tien was speaking a day after his brother, James Tien Pei-chun, was expelled from China’s top parliamentary advisory body and resigned as leader of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing Liberal Party after urging the Leung to step down. Beijing has said it fully supports Leung.
James Tien’s swift removal from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is a sign of how concerned Beijing is about the protests which, at their peak, drew more than 100,000 people into the streets.
Hong Kong’s increasingly charged political climate is also putting Chinese government officials on tenterhooks.
China’s liaison office in Hong Kong called an urgent meeting with Liberal Party leaders on Tuesday, calling them in the morning and asking them to attend a dinner meeting that night, said Liberal Party lawmaker Felix Chung.
China’s most senior official in Hong Kong, Zhang Xiaoming, explained the CPPCC’s decision was specific to James Tien, Chung said. Zhang also said Beijing would continue to support the Liberal Party, according to Chung.
The party in Hong Kong is pro-establishment and comprised largely of businessmen.
Michael Tien said that the CPPCC was forced to act given the backdrop of the protests. CPPCC members are expected to fully support and promote its resolutions – or at least keep quiet once they are made, he said, adding that if the CPPCC had failed to respond to his brother’s comments, its bylaws and code of conduct risked becoming “a bunch of hot air”.
“Membership comes with a certain price tag,” Tien said. “I think my brother made the mistake of not recognizing that.”
While CPPCC officials have said they still consider James Tien loyal, his brother says there is still debate over how to categorise him.
“One camp calls him the ‘conscience of Hong Kong’ because he is willing to sacrifice his own political career to speak his mind. The other camp says he is not loyal and has betrayed his status as a pro-establishment member,” Michael Tien said.
“I think both camps are correct. That’s why it’s best for him not to be a CPPCC member. When you accept that appointment, it comes with certain obligations.”
James Tien declined to comment.Source: Reuters “Hong Kong protests a ‘national security issue’ for China”
- The battle against China for Hong Kong’s soul (chinadailymail.com)
- China asserts paternal rights over Hong Kong in democracy clash; tells Hong Kong it must obey (chinadailymail.com)
- China’s CCP shows its fear ahead of 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre (chinadailymail.com)
- Hong Kong recalls Tiananmen killings, China muffles dissent (chinadailymail.com)
- China warns of ‘unimaginable consequences’ if Hong Kong demonstrations continue (chinadailymail.com)
- Do Not Give Them the Excuse to Hurt You, HK Democracy Fighters (tiananmenstremendousachievements.wordpress.com)
- Chinese Officials Seek to Discredit Xi Jinping in Hong Kong (theepochtimes.com)
- Negotiations With Hong Kong’s Students Are Just a Tactic (theepochtimes.com)
- Tiananmen legacy looms over Hong Kong protests (usnews.com)
- The Dates That Matter: Complicated History Preceded Hong Kong Protests (dailysignal.com)