The 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Having visited China many times, I can confirm that the Tiananmen Square massacre is a taboo topic.

By ·

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and although many of us in the West know a lot about what happened there and recognize the images of “Tank Man” and “Miss Liberty,”  most Chinese citizens know nothing about the events of June 4. 

Tiananmen Square changed the course of world history. After June 4, 1989, the Chinese government put all of its time and effort into economic development, not democracy or social development. We see these economic results all around us….at Target and Walgreens and in electronics and automobiles and in industrial equipment and so much more.  Just think what the world would look like if the Chinese government had put equal effort into democratization.

Having visited China many times, I can confirm that the Tiananmen Square massacre is a taboo topic.  People who may know what happened or participated in the protests are very reluctant to speak about it. Searching on any related terms from inside China is blocked.  Even some of my friends who participated in the protests and now live in the US will only speak about it in private, fearing the long reach of the Chinese government to their families and friends still in China.

I always coach my business clients to stay away from any political discussions when they are in China.  Chinese citizens are generally uninformed about Tiananmen, Tibet, Taiwan and other hot topics, and are very reluctant to discuss anything controversial.  You are also likely to be working with some people who are members of the Communist Party in addition to their business role.  Their job is to represent and protect the government.  Political discussions will get you into trouble on multiple levels.  Stick to business discussions.

Every year, the June 4 anniversary makes me feel sad and awestruck at the formidable power of the Chinese government.  This year in particular, feels very emotional because of the many images that are being published in recognition of the 25th anniversary.

We are so lucky to live in the US where we can say and think whatever we want, question and challenge our leaders, and strive for the things we think are right and just.

Watch the news today and be grateful for our freedom.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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