China The Victory Of Tanks Will Not Last Not since the time of Stalin have we seen the tru

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China: The Victory Of Tanks Will Not Last Not since the time of Stalin have we seen the truth and lies shift in such a swift review as in Deng Xiaoping's China. Hope had been so high before the horror that brought to a close this most remarkable chapter in a still unfolding drama. The Chinese press and television had covered favorably the wave of peaceful demostrations for democracy which had swept throught China's major cities. The troops at first refused to inforce martial law and instead mingled with the students and workers. While the central government had been without a voice for days on end(reflecting the profound divisions at the highest level of government), the entirely peaceful nature of the demostrations had made it seem possibile the crisis would pass without bloodshed, with a more democratic and moderate leadership emerging. But there was to be no special Chinese solution. Onlt the old solution of violence. The tanks finally rolled, the guns chattered the deadly news that the hard liners had won for now. Yet the victory of those tanks will not last. In this century, nonviolence has astonished governments again and again by proving the most natural of weapons, available to all, and requiring only a combination of courage and patience. In a century where it once seemed that guns and prisions would be the outline of a hard new order, we believe democracy, respect for human rights, and the method of nonviolence will prevail. Let us rescue the Chinese from some of thier friends. Odd that those who would break the back of the American trade union movement always support labor's rights in Communist countries. Odd also that those who had no good words for mass student demostrations during the Civil Rights or Vietnam Peace movements are so enthusiastic about students demostrations in Communist countries. It is outrageous that Taiwan, where democracy has yet to take root, and where the defeated forces of Chaing Kai Shek took power in 1949 by murdering thousands of Taiwanese, should put themselves forward as suppoters of reform in China. And what are we to make of those, so enthusiastic for the death penality here, who are so horrified when they see it imposed in China? But for those who respect the great and historic culture of China, these are heartbreaking days. The struggle for democracy has roots in China going back decades, even before the rise of the Communist Party. The students and workers were demanding and end to corruption, not of Chinese Communism; and end of a one- party state, not a retuen to rpivate ownership of the means of production. The students certainly were not united on a political platform, but those watching them on television saw the red flags and heard the singing of the "Internationale." Thier struggle was for an open China, open to the Soviet Union as well as to Africa. It was a struggle for room to breath and think freely, not only for an intellectual elite, but for working people and for peasents. There are so many tragidies here. The tragedy that Deng Xiaoping, who himself suffered so heavily during the Cultural Revolution and had shown such courage in challenging the worst of the Maoist past, will now go down in histroy not as the old revolutionist who gave Chinese Communism a humane and democratic face, but as one who compunded the murder of workers and students with the betrayal of the truth by terming them counter- revolutionaries and holligans. There is a tragedy of the many intellectuals who took great risks to speak out during this brief flowering of democracy. And there is a tragedy of the masses who will continue to endure corruption of a regime which was willing to experiment with many things, but never with political reform. There are ironies, as well. Bush may denounce China, but the U.S. will maintain its military listening posts in China to spy on the USSR. And business ties are important. Kissinger's old hope of the "China card"-of isolating the Soviet Union by an alliance with China-is now at risk. It is clear Bush is trying hard, beneath the surface of denunciations, to maintain a relationship with the Chinese leadership. We need to keep our perspective. There is the image of military violence, but that is too common in our world to suprise us. More powerful in history's long reach is the single student who faced down a column of tanks-and the tank commander who was himself moved and did not run the student down. We must hope that the final victory will be with those now broken or in hiding. or the leadership is old, while those under arrest are young. To them, through ever channel open to us, we send greetings. And to them and to the members of the People's Liberation Army we adress a special appeal-let China, in making its way to the future, make its way past violence and remember the sweet moments when troops and citizens spoke peacefully together. -Nonviolent Activist Publications Committee (The Nonviolent Activist/September 1989)


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