By: Dr. Yang Jianli

In a weekly series for IranWire, Jianli Yang analyses Chinese disinformation around the origin of coronavirus and its handling to date.

As the worst pandemic in modern history continues to ravage the world, we once again observe the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China.

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, clean and responsible. The hope was that China might go on the right trajectory, leading to a democracy that respects the value of life and protects human rights.

But the Chinese communist regime responded with machine guns and rolling tanks. As a result, many young lives were lost, the hope of a whole generation was shattered, and political reform was stopped in its tracks. With checks and balances taken away, the Chinese government has since become even more brazen in its repression and corruption.

Since he took power in 2012, Xi Jinping has struck fear into intellectuals, journalists, and private businesspeople alike. The message is clear and simple: be loyal or face punishment.

Censorship was once fragmented across government agencies, with cracks that nimble journalists and citizens could squeeze into and exploit in order to circulate important information. Now, the space for free speech and civil society has been squeezed almost to nothing, turning back to the time of the Cultural Revolution.

Inside the Party, officials are told to… [continue reading]