Chaohua Wang

Chaohua Wang is writing a book about the 1989 Tiananmen protest.

Hong Kong v. Beijing: Hong Kong heats up

Chaohua Wang, 15 August 2019

Lessons have been learned from previous movements. The current protests have no leadership and are highly decentralised. Social media is the main vehicle of mass mobilisation. This time round, there have been no internal splits. Yet the solidarity is not rooted in political discipline: even when brothers climb a mountain together, each has to make his own effort. One action may be followed straightaway by another, or by a few days’ rest. Bruce Lee’s saying becomes a golden rule: ‘Water can flow or it can crush. Be water my friend.’

One night in July, Wang Yu, a lawyer in her mid-forties, returned to her home in Beijing after seeing her husband and teenage son off at the airport, unaware that they had both been detained by police before boarding their flight to Australia. Around 3 a.m. she sent a text message to friends: ‘Electricity and wifi were cut off suddenly. Someone is working on my door lock. I can hear murmured whispers outside, though it’s so dark I can’t see anything through the peephole.’ Neighbours later reported seeing dozens of police, who told them they were arresting a drug addict.

Diary: Remembering Tiananmen

Chaohua Wang, 5 July 2007

Contrary to their intention, commemorations of historical events are more often reminders of the power of forgetting: either official ceremonies that gradually lose their meaning, becoming public holidays like any other, or gatherings of tiny bands of militants or mourners, whose numbers dwindle to nothing as the years pass. In Los Angeles, you can see both kinds. If you ask people what Memorial Day stands for, virtually no one, not even professors of history, can tell you. As for the other sort, I myself stand every summer with a small band of friends outside the Chinese consulate in downtown Los Angeles, holding placards scarcely anyone notices. But what we commemorate has, unusually, not been forgotten elsewhere. It is now 18 years since soldiers and tanks entered Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

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