The Tian An Men Square protests were the largest pro-democracy demonstrations in China's 3000-year dynastic history. The death count remains unverifiable and the government still outlaws any attempts discover the true number. The fight for democracy and human rights continues today. But perhaps the demonstrations were not all that they seemed to be.
The protests were undeniably world-shaking events, made even larger by the massacre which brought them to climax. The after-effects are still felt today; the events brought world attention to China. Countless groups, such as the Tiananmen Mothers were formed to carry on the legacy of that night.
But, were the protests as big as the Western press made them out to be? Or were journalists unwilling to shed light on "less important" techinical aspects that might ruin the moving story of a million people vying for freedom? Many hunger strikers did not actually skip any meals. In her book Red China Blues, Jan Wong describes how one journalist was taken away in an ambulance before he could explain that he was not a student in the hunger strike. Chai Ling, in an interview before June 4, expressed her remorse at not being able to tell the students in her coalition that they were waiting for shots to be fired to bring more attention to their cause. On May 28th, she almost fled the situation, abandoning her post.
What happened in Tian An Men Square was a tragedy that could have been avoided. By June 4, students were leaving the square and returning to classes. But, what happened after June 4 was equally important.
Despite heavy urging, China continues to deny basic rights to its people: dissidents are still jailed without charges and workers are denied the right to form unions. But, most importantly, China is still a Communist-ruled country. Those who formed the Chinese Democratic Party were jailed immediately after its founding in 1998. China cannot continue under a one-party system, nor can it uphold a capitalist economy under its current government. The government has no laws instituted to stop abuses of the capitalist economy. Unless China allows its people to have a voice in the government, the situation will not get better. China needs to establish basic laws, protect their people, and allow them to own civil liberties.