Today is June the 4th, the 24th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. I felt like saying something, particularly in my microblog at Sina Weibo, a microblogging site that is as popular in China as Twitter in the West. I knew I had to be very careful, for China is notorious for its Internet censorship. Then I thought, after the 1989 event, there have been many songs circulating in the Chinese world, many of which simply call for the Chinese people to stand up and be united. Perhaps I could quote a paragraph from one of these songs.
One of the student leaders at Tiananmen Square back then, Dan Wang, wrote a poem titled Those Days without a Cigarette to Smoke after he was thrown into prison by the Chinese government. The poem was later made into a song by Taiwanese singer Tom Chang, and became a popular tune throughout the Chinese world. Chang died in a car accident at the age of 31, and I have always loved him as a great singer. I thought I could dedicate a paragraph to Chang at Sina Weibo and mention Those Days without a Cigarette to Smoke as one of his most famous songs.
So I wrote something like, “Tom Chang was a great singer from Taiwan. Although he died in his thirties, many of his songs are still popular today, including this song, that song, and Those Days without a Cigarette to Smoke. But now I am thinking of his song The Ocean, which goes like, ‘If the ocean can bring back the love I lost, then let me wait for it with my life.’ Those glorious days in our youth, those tears, sweat and even blood we have shed, they will never be forgotten.”
I thought this paragraph is rather mild, in a political sense… and went ahead to publish it as a microblog. Within an hour, it was removed by Sina Weibo’s ”system administrator”, who left a message to me. It says, “This microblog has been ‘encrypted’, as it is not suitable to be displayed in public.” My immediate reaction was, WTF? I then thought about a historical novel titled A Time of Chaos, written by my friend Benny Chi and published by me in December 2012 as a Chinese ebook. I wanted to quote a paragraph from that novel, as a response to my microblog being censored.
However, just as I typed out the quote and was ready to publish it as a microblog, Sina Weibo’s system came up with a message saying, “Sorry, your content has violated the ‘(Preliminary) Sina Weibo Community Management Regulations’ or similar rules, and therefore cannot be published.” Completely defeated, I then wrote some mumble jumbo and published it, to be done with it.
The quote I wanted to use from A Time of Chaos describes how, in China’s Ming Dynasty, an evil government official used his power to disrupt the parliament, attack and banish his political enemies, promote his own supporters, and therefore create chaos throughout the Middle Kingdom. In this quote, a commoner laments how those who are loyal to the emperor have been either arrested or murdered. Their pleas for the emperor to tidy up his court and remove those bad elements are often intercepted by the evil official, so that anyone trying to expose the official’s wrongdoings is practically committing political suicide. Worse, the evil official not only controls the army but also leads an agency of spies. If anyone dares to work against him, then not only them, but also their families and friends, run the risk of being killed.
I feel this quote is rather appropriate to be used today.
To conclude this article, I want to quote from the aforementioned student leader Dan Wang, who recently published an open letter to urge people in Hong Kong not to stop honoring those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. Wang says in his letter, “Pitched against the background that is globalization, we are all stakeholders, no matter to what ethnic groups we belong and within which national boundaries we live. In the battleground where freedom is being fought for, we are all allies.”
Wang continues to say, “In this world, there are certain values that reach beyond ethnic groups, beyond political parties, and even beyond politics itself. These values are our care for humanity, our consistent pursuit of justice, and our respect and grief for those who have sacrificed themselves for the fight for freedom. These values, in a cultural sense, are the true democracy.”
That is all I have to say today.