I can't believe it’s been twenty years since the Tiananmen massacre. How clearly I remember sitting in my little brick house on Mary Ann Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side, packing my suitcase and preparing to drive to DC to visit my girlfriend, when across the television screen comes CNN’s amazing coverage of the Chinese government’s crackdown. Over the next few days, as stories and photos, and eventually video leaked out, the whole world was able to see what happened.
Tiananmen was a social uprising. And this week, its 20th anniversary, we see the Chinese government blocking Flickr and Facebook and Myspace and Twitter and so many other social networking sites. One has to wonder how long such censoring can effectively continue. Social movements can do amazing things, very quickly. You only need to look a few months after Tiananmen to see the success of the crowds in bringing down the Berlin Wall beginning on November 9, 1989.
That first week of June, 1989, was a sad week. Let’s hope that as our collective connectivity grows, we will both never forget and never go back. David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy, can close this post with this quote:
…thanks to the economic growth in the country and concurrent revolutions in information technology, individual Chinese are better informed. Further, thanks to the rise of the country's private sector, its growing integration with the global economy and the personal growth of the average citizen, the Chinese people are today part of a rapidly changing political fabric. Whether that fabric must be rent in order to fulfill the dreams that were articulated by those students in that square two decades ago is unclear. But what is absolutely certain is that during the intervening years, that shared secret has not died. In fact, it is no longer a very well kept secret. But because it is so widely shared, it remains one that is so powerful that it is almost certainly of greater significance to China's future than it is to its past.