Power and Tiananmen Square

Residents and soldiers on the street in Beijing on June 6, 1989 after the crackdown on protesters. Credit LIU Heung Shing/Associated Press

Residents and soldiers on the street in Beijing on June 6, 1989 after the crackdown on protesters. Credit LIU Heung Shing/Associated Press

This year marks 25 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre – or 6-4 as it’s called in Chinese.  It was a very formative event for me as a child, which I’ve written about before.  It always weighs heavy on my heart this time of year, and I am always intrigued to see how journalists will cover the anniversary, or how the Communist government will try and keep people from remembering this year.

I was surprised last night to read this NY Times article – Tales of Army Discord Show Tiananmen in a New Light. It relates new information about a high-ranking general who refused to attack the protesters saying, “I’d rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history.”  In fact, there were other officers too who expressed dissent.

The whole article is definitely worth reading, but the thing that has been sticking with me is that the party leaders did not seem to stop and consider his dissent.  Instead, as the NYTimes reports:

Although General Xu was soon arrested, his defiance sent shudders through the party establishment, fueling speculation of a military revolt and heightening the leadership’s belief that the student-led protests were nothing less than a mortal threat to the Communist Party.

It strikes me because it the general’s dissent may have had the unintended effect of causing the government to crackdown even more strongly.  All this because of fear:  fear of losing power, of losing control,  What kind of power is driven by fear?

I think about this also because I am reading Andy Crouch’s book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power for a discussion next week.  It has prompted all sorts of thoughts about power and the use and misuse of power in our world.  But closer to home, it has forced me to think about my own relationship with power in my own spheres of influence.  You and I don’t control armies, but each of us has our own complex relationship to power.  We need to own how we use our power.

I am even more convinced that I can’t let fear of losing power or control be the driver of my decisions.  Lord, have mercy.



2 thoughts on “Power and Tiananmen Square

  1. searchingforsubstance

    Whoa.. I didn’t know about the general who was arrested. It sheds some light that not everyone agreed with the government, but you’re right.. Sad because the govt continued with the attacks anyway.


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