Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tiananmen anniversary unimportant to China's youth

Source: LA Times

In his baggy shorts hanging below the knees, Puma sneakers and spiky hair, Wang Kangkang is hip to the present, clueless about the past.

Although he comes often to see the nightly ceremony of the Chinese flag being lowered at Tiananmen Square, he doesn't know what happened here in 1989 and doesn't really care.

"Well, it happened before I was born," the 19-year-old said, looking down at his sneakered feet as the crowd shuffled out of the vast expanse of concrete on a balmy evening. "In any case, it's history. Why should we dwell on the past?"

On June 4, 1989, hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed as the army made its final push to crush a student-led pro-democracy demonstration in Tiananmen Square. As the 20th anniversary approaches, the government has fortified its extraordinary information blockade on the bloody crackdown. Anybody in the country trying to search on the Internet for information about the square, one of Beijing's most popular tourist attractions, is likely to get the message "This page cannot be displayed."

But to a large extent, the efforts are overkill: Apathy as much as censorship has pushed the events of 1989 into the dark recesses of history.

The young Chinese -- one graying activist calls them "the stupid generation" -- remain willfully ignorant about the past.


It's probably for the best. If the guy on the right of the picture in the red hair and the tank-top leads any pro-democracy movements, then democracy is in big trouble!

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