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The Ghost of Tiananmen

After much speculation, we now know how China’s leaders chose to recognize the death of Zhao Ziyang. Almost not at all.

When I was on a tour in Beijing for 8 days, our tour guide mentioned the Tiananmen riots once, on the day we visited the Forbidden City.

He asked, “Have you heard of the uprising?”

It took us a few seconds to realize what he was referencing. Frankly, we were told not to expect any discussion on this subject, and we certainly weren’t to broach the subject ourselves. Finally our group, about 1/4 of a busload at the time, nodded knowingly.

“Do you know how the military arrived at the square so quickly?”

Of course we didn’t.

“The military has connections to the subway system. They shut it down and the soldiers hopped on the train.”

That was all we heard about it. I regret that there was major reconstruction in Tiananmen Square during our visit. This was strategically timed with the 10th anniversary of the riots, a fact that eluded me at the time. We were only able to look at the giant place from across the 12 lane street.