A gulf exists between the average Chinese and average non Chinese view of the 1989 Protests in China. It seems obvious to us outside China that a great tragedy took place and then was intentionally covered up in order to protect CCP dominance. Many people in China though buy the CCP version that nothing happened and if anything happened it was unavoidable (or a CIA plot). In The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited the author Louisa Lim has done a great service to everyone by forgoing the talking points and finding facts. The result is an even handed view which shows that terrible crimes were committed by people on both sides of the situation – but perhaps only one side is continuing to commit them now.
The story which emerges from Lim’s investigation has two themes. First is that the events which took place in 1989 were more tragic in every way than people have heard before. Thousands died in Beijing including police, members of the military, and many thousands of protestors. Less reported is the many who died in protests across China. One horrifying situation from Chengdu is highlighted where there was brutality unlike anyone has heard before. Protestors were killing police when they could and police were catching and murdering any protestors they found. It seemed like it shoud be a story of Japan in the 1935, not China in 1989.
The second theme is that the CCP is willing to do most anything in order to hide from this situation. Not only has the official history been white washed but anyone who speaks out has been forced into silence. In an ideal world books like this would be the first step towards healing and taking steps towards ensuring similar tragedies don’t happen but that is not happening. The greatest tragedy is not that this blood bath took place but that the CCP is so actively trying to hide the truth.