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Tiananmen Square, 20 years later
The silence in China surrounding the violent crackdown that ended a peaceful democracy movement
 

"It was exactly 20 years ago that I stood on the northwest corner of Tiananmen Square and watched 'People’s China' open fire on the people," said Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. Now, China is "frozen politically," mention of the Tiananmen anniversary is blocked on Twitter, and there is no sign of the people's "bold yearning for democracy." Many still want change but are biding their time; others have already received, courtesy of China's economic boom, the only thing they really wanted—"a better life."

"Count me unimpressed," said Claudia Rosett in The Wall Street Journal. China's rulers are hoping the world will look at their economic achievements and believe they've come into the 21st century. But "the real sign of modernity will come when China opens up its political system enough so that the country's leaders no longer fear June 4 but treat the Tiananmen uprising with the honor it deserves."

Don't hold your breath, said Christopher Beam in Slate. The Chinese government has carefully scrubbed any mention of the the 1989 protests and the ensuing massacre from textbooks and the media. The state has substituted its own version of events—in which no civilians died but several martyred soldiers were burned alive in their vehicles. "For the most part, the government avoids discussing the issue at all."

 

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