Despite fitful, stumbling progress China has yet to embrace the freedoms that should accompany its anything goes economic policies, and that has become particularly evident in the days leading up to the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and the massacre that followed.
Catching my eye today was the arrest of an Australian artist, Guo Jian, a Tiananmen protester and former soldier who is best known for creating art with a strong current of social criticism, after a very interesting (read it!) interview with the Financial Times in which he openly discussed, among other things, his involvement with the student led protests of 1989 and his most recent installation piece, a massive diorama of Tiananmen Square made of trash, ground pork, and other non-traditional but deeply symbolic materials which in part is meant as a critique of the extensive redevelopment programs China has employed to alter the historic Square in it’s ongoing attempts to scrub the protests and massacre from memory.
This anniversary has been a real sore spot for China. The huge, rapidly developing nation has censored and forbidden all mentions of the 1989 incidents, including schools, where students are instead instructed, in great detail, every affront ever perpetuated against China by outsiders. This seems especially strange to us Americans, whose nation wears it’s own, remarkably similar, sins on our collective sleeves. We may be a nation of secrets, according to whistle blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, but our constitution rights permit volumes of often deeply critical review of our lowest moments in remarkable detail. In China, that just gets you locked up.
*On an unrelated note, this is my 400th post–fitting that I didn’t realize until after I posted, and that it was on a serious subject. Huzzah!