A Reflection on Tiananmen, Hong Kong, and the Corona Virus
As the worst pandemic in modern history continues to plague the world, we once again observe the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
On this day, I have been thinking about the connection between the two seemingly isolated tragedies, 31 years apart.
The brave students in Tiananmen Square demanded political reforms to make the government more transparent and responsible. But the communist regime responded with machine guns and rolling tanks. As a result, political reform ceased, and the government has become even more blatant in its repression and corruption.
Today, 31 years later, it is a well-established fact that if, when the coronavirus first broke out in Wuhan, there had been any space in society and government to sound the alarm; if the government had not suppressed the truth and misled the world; hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved.
By the same token, if the Communist Party, instead of slaughtering the Tiananmen protesters, had accepted their requests for political reform, the world would not have been plunged into the catastrophe we are experiencing today. This is an example of the principle that when a regime runs roughshod on its own people, it will sooner or later bring disasters beyond its border, one way or another.
Everyone should be reminded of this lesson: the difference made by freedom and democracy is not only whether we have a life of dignity and individual fulfillment, but very often the difference between life and death.
The people of Hong Kong know it well. Carrying on the Tiananmen spirit, they are putting their lives on line to defend their freedom and push for democracy. Under the cover of the pandemic, Beijing is intensifying crackdowns on the people of Hong Kong, aiming to kill their hope by suppressing the space for freedom of expression to zero, as it did 31 years ago in China.
But the people of Hong Kong will not give up. They will fight through to a free future. So will we. Today, there can be no better way to commemorate our fallen brothers and sisters 31 years ago than standing with Hong Kong.
Our memory today is not just a sad recollection. Our memory concerns life and death. Whenever we think of those young lives lost, and of so many unnecessary deaths today, we need to challenge ourselves to ask how we can live, so those sacrifices will not have been in vain. Let us work, together, to ensure that they were not.
Rest in peace my dear brothers and sisters of Tiananmen. Rest in peace our fellow human beings who died of the corona virus.