Hard to believe 23 years have gone by since the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989. Despite the distance of time, any official discussion of the event the Chinese government still refers to as merely the “June 4th incident” is taboo. While Hong Kong remains surprisingly open in terms of freedom to assemble and protest about that night (there are yearly candlelight vigils on the anniversary of Tiananmen), there were no demonstrations reported across Mainland China where the events of June 4th are still considered “counter-revolutionary”.
When the Shanghai Composite Index opened today at 2,246.98, several bloggers within China interpreted this as the 23rd anniversary of the June 4, 1989 crackdown when read from right to left. Their blogs were immediately shut down by censors. The Chinese have a long tradition of being superstitious- especially about numbers. There has been some speculation as to whether the fall in the index represented the work of hackers, but many believe that to be highly unlikely.
In the meantime, a spokesman for the US State Department encouraged the Chinese government to “release everyone still serving sentences for their participation in the 1989 demonstrations; to provide a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing; and to end the continued harassment of demonstration participants and their families.”
Liu Weimin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the statement.
Despite its acceptance of a more Western style capitalistic approach for its economy, the Chinese government is committed to one party rule at all costs.
Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the Nobel Peace prize in 2010 and was involved in the 1989 demonstrations is serving an 11 year sentence for his internet proclamation “Charter ’08” urging China to end its one party rule and embrace democracy.