Soul Searching on Tiananmen

6/04/2014 六四 , 舊文復刻
25 years ago, protests against corruption and inflation quickly escalated into a democratic movement. When the movement received international attention, it gained widespread support from the apolitical populace in the British colony of Hong Kong, 5 years after its fate to be handed over to China was sealed. All of a sudden, Hongkongers saw hope for a democratic Beijing government after the handover in 1997. While very few joined the Beijing movement in person, money and resource donations poured in.

The massacre on June 4th crushed all hope for peaceful transitions to democracy, but many Hongkongers felt that they are on the same boat as the mainlanders. A weird contradicting identity has formed: patriotic yet rebellious. While being increasingly anti-Communist, many Hongkongers considered themselves to be patriotic to a virtual, cultural and unified China, covering both China proper, Tibet, East Turkestan, Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and all territories claimed by governments on both sides of the Straits. By attending the annual religious vigil on the June 4th massacre, many vigil attendees consider themselves the conscience of China.

25 years passed in a blink of an eye. The once fragile regime has become the world’s second largest economy, while Hong Kong has been annexed to China for so long that many Hongkongers genuinely believe Hong Kong has no future other than being a city in the all-powerful China. The annual vigil has increasingly become a feel-good ritual. The slogans “End the One-Party Dictatorship”, “Develop a Democratic China” are so encouraging, but at the same time, powerless as all participants know. After the vigil ends with the hosts saying “Come back next year!”, the society is back to normal.

I, myself, was one of them, and it took a lot of soul searching to figure out my psychology. Was I self glorifying myself? Or was I mourning for the loss of a hypothetical democratic Communist government that had never existed? Were the elderlies guilty about the perished students who they thought they were paying as frontline soldiers against the authoritarian regime? It’s easy to deny all these and resort to universal value of humanity, but deep down, I know this massacre is different from other tragedies, to me and other Hongkongers.

Written on June 4, 2014
Uploaded on May 29, 2016