The myth of Tiananmen Square

Tokyo

In his April 17 review of Philip J. Cunningham’s book, “Tiananmen Moon: Inside the Chinese Student Uprising,” I am surprised that a scholar of Jeff Kingston’s caliber is taken in by the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre myth.

There are now quite a few foreign observers, including an entire Spanish television crew who was in the Square all that fateful evening, confirming there was no massacre and that students remaining there left quietly during the night. Where the killing took place was on the roads to the Square and only after troops sent to clear the Square were firebombed by angry crowds. Casualties caused as a result were heavy, on both sides.

Cunningham’s book gives a clue as to what happened in its interview with Chai Ling, a student leader. She admits in effect that when the students realized that their demonstration in the Square was having little impact, they sought the bloody confrontation that exploded in Beijing’s streets. Little wonder that Beijing remains uptight about the whole affair.

A detailed report by the Columbia School of Journalism available on Google recounts how the myth of a deliberate massacre in the Square got into circulation.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

gregory clark