Chinese Gov't Inflicts Its Selective Amnesia On Hong Kong, Forcing The Removal Of Tiananmen Square Massacre Monuments
from the gaslighting-at-gunpoint dept
To be subservient to the Chinese government is to be in a constant state of (mandated) denial. The government has a narrative to project. No, that’s not an accurate depiction. The state has a narrative to enforce.
An obscene amount of oppression and death is apparently nothing to be ashamed of. And how could the government be ashamed of it? It never happened. Whatever violence Chinese citizens saw perpetrated against them was merely the actions of a heroic and patriotic government, inflicting death and misery for the greater good. Of course, the only beneficiaries of this “greater good” are those inflicting death and misery. Hence the friction between fact and government fiction.
To make things easier for the people who serve the government (rather than the other way around), the Chinese government has spent years trying to eliminate the friction. Having a singular narrative may not fool people, but it at least gives them an official timeline to follow, which makes it easier to maintain “citizen scores” and stay off the radar of a government more interested in curbing thoughtcrime than actual crime.
The Chinese government’s steady incursion into the day-to-day activities of Hong Kong residents has been greeted with heated, sustained protests from residents of the region, as well as international condemnation. Neither of these reactions have slowed the Chinese government’s roll. Neither has its tacit agreement with the British government to leave Hong Kong unmolested until 2049. Since 1999, the Chinese government has inflicted its will on the extremely profitable region, stripping it of the democracy and independence that allowed it to flourish.
When regular laws just weren’t effective enough in shutting down Hong Kong protests, the Chinese government introduced a new national security law. With this vague and easily abused justification for crushing dissent, the Chinese government made resistance untenable by threatening protesters and critics with life sentences for daring to challenge the narrative.
Then it began erasing history. The Chinese government had already cleared the slate in China, eliminating its past misdeeds by rewriting textbooks, jailing dissenters, and creating an insular web overseen by multitudinous censors. Then it came for Hong Kong, using its “national security” pretext to jail journalists, target documentarians, and prevent artistic works challenging the official narrative from being displayed.
Now, it has come for the last physical remnants of its checkered past. Erasure is here if you want it. If you have no monument to atrocities, did the atrocities even happen?
Two more Hong Kong universities have removed works of art marking Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square democracy protesters, as authorities move to erase memorials to the event.
The removals come a day after Hong Kong’s oldest university took down a statue named the Pillar of Shame, commemorating the events of 1989, sparking outcry by activists and dissident artists in the city and abroad.
Hong Kong used to be the one place in China where mass remembrance of Tiananmen was still tolerated, with thousands gathering each year to mourn the hundreds of democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops in 1989.
Excuses were made. Some were more honest than others. But the writing is on the wall. And those who are unwilling to read it are headed towards a lifetime of misery. The heads of these universities can see what the future holds. Dissent and criticism are one-way tickets to hard labor or reeducation.
CUHK said it removed the “unauthorised statue” after an internal assessment, adding that the groups responsible for moving it to the campus in 2010 were no longer functional.
Lingnan University said it had taken down a wall relief, also created by Chen, after having “reviewed and assessed items on campus that may pose legal and safety risks to the university community”.
The first excuse is bullshit. But it’s bullshit the Chinese government will find acceptable, especially since it resulted in the removal of a monument to its brutality. The second assessment is far more realistic. It at least informs readers that the university has accepted its fate as the neck under the heel of the Chinese government’s boot. Rather than subject administrators, teachers, and students to future brutality from the Chinese government, the school has decided to remove the inanimate provocateur. This cedes ground to the Chinese government’s narrative but at least prevents punishment for “misremembering” the Tiananmen Square Massacre. There is a clever backup plan for remembrance — a crowdsourced 3D model that would allow for swift, cheap replication of one of these monuments — but it’s clear Hong Kong entities will never officially host any version of these sculptures.
Having spent years making itself essential to supply chains — both as a producer and a consumer — the Chinese government is now openly mocking every critical statement, sanction, or tariff issued by foreign governments. It has demonstrated the strength of its convictions. And it has yet to see anything in response that would deter it from becoming its worst self. If it decides certain parts of its history no longer exist inside its borders, then that’s the way it’s going to be. The outcry coming from beyond its borders is just background noise.
But even though it means nothing to the Chinese government, it still means something to everyone else. World leaders need to confront the Chinese government about its actions and draw attention to its oppressive efforts and erasure of history when meeting with Chinese officials or addressing supply chain issues. The Chinese government may choose to remember its history selectively, but the rest of the world should be under no obligation to indulge in its fantasies.