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China's amnesia should be countered. Everyone should read this!
on 28 January 2015
As Tiananmen features in every account of modern China that one reads, including biographies of any statesman at the time, or simple accounts of mdoern history, this reader was already very familiar with the event, and as such was somewhat uncertain about reading a whole book on the subject. However, I was pleasantly surprised at not just the informative nature of the book, but also of the emotionally harrowing accounts.
People's Republic of Amnesia addresses several key issues not included in accounts one reads in modern history books. Amongst these are;
The extent to which the Chinese government has successfully whitewashed Tiananmen from popular memory, along with the weapon of nationalistic education. To such an extent that when one witnesses the flag raising ceremony at Tiananmen, one cannot help but marvel at how a place of national shame has become a place of national pride.
The extent to which Tiananmen mothers have been denied any kind of closure, and how they are subject to monitoring by a constant faceless bureaucracy, and the truly faceless nature of the regime on this matter.
The extent of the division within the leadership. Not just Zhao Ziyang, but also the Commander of the Beijing Military Region General Xu Qinxian, who personally remarked that he would rather be beheaded than go down in history as a murderer, and paid for this with his career and a life spent under supervision.
The truly shoddy nature of how the operation was executed. Not only were most of the soldiers deployed badly trained, and ill informed, but the fact was that initial attempts to deploy them failed. The citizens blockaded them and it seemed as though the implementation of martial law was in standstill, looking almost like a joke at first. However, what followed was no joke. Amongst the killed and wounded were even government officials and their families, as the troops fired up warning shots and hit residential compounds at Muxidi.
Perhaps the best was saved until last, which was Chengdu. Perhaps it is inappropriate to say best, but Chengdu and it's brutal crackdown on June 5th is almost entirely forgotten. It is a story that should be told, and here it is solemnly told.
People's Republic of Amnesia is a strongly recommended read for all China enthusiasts and history enthusiasts. It should be read because it details one of the greatest thefts of history in modern times. Indeed there are other thefts of history, not least of which is the Japanese amnesia that routinely agitates China, however this testimony is a perect expose at China's very own amnesia. Everyone should read it!