Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Chinese History You Need to Remember

It is so easy to let some parts of history fade ... but there are other parts of history that need to be kept at the front of everyone's mind.

As I was 23 and a recently minted Ensign, I remember - but to many it is as old to them as the Cuban Missile Crisis is to me.

Sadly, we teach but a sliver of this event - but people should remember more. If for no other reason than to honor the thousands upon thousands of nameless Chinese heroes who - when the time came - stood for their nation to turn towards freedom.

They failed. History does not have a right side or wrong side - it only records which side had the greater will can capability;
Diplomatic archives recently declassified by the U.K. government have shed further light on the horror of the military crackdown on student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, describing troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) 27th army as being ordered to "spare no-one" as they used dum-dum bullets, automatic weapons and armored vehicles to carry out mass killings in Beijing.
"On arrival at Tiananmen troops from [the northeastern city of Shenyang] had separated students and residents," then British ambassador Alan Donald wrote in a diplomatic cable dated June 1989 detailing how the Shenyang troops had been sent in unarmed to disperse the crowd, followed up by a fully armed 27th Army that rampaged through the city killing civilians and other soldiers alike.

"Students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes [armored personnel carriers] APCs attacked," the cable said. "Students linked arms but were mown down, including soldiers."

"APCs then ran over bodies time and time again to make "pie" and remains collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains," it said.

The cable, which described the 27th Army as illiterate "primitives" from the northern province of Shanxi, commanded by the nephew of then Chinese President Yang Shangkun, said the heavily armed troops were kept without news for 10 days and told they were to take part in a military exercise.
The article has more, but here is some of the horror reported not by some propagandist ... but in a British diplomatic cable;

There was more resistance than just at the square;
The documents also describe pitched battles between "enraged" crowds and troops in the western suburb of Muxidi, and Shilipu, to the east of the diplomatic quarter in Jianguomenwai.

"The first three waves were held by the demonstrators and [Shenyang] troops tried to push back the crowds to let 27 Army through," the cable says. "They failed and 27 Army opened fire on the crowd (both civilians and soldiers) before running over them in their APCs."
At Muxidi, "the enraged masses followed ignoring machine-gun fire to next battle at Liubukou," the description reads, in a reference to a district of Beijing just west of Tiananmen Square.

"APCs ran over troops and civilians at 65 kilometers/hour in same manner," it said. "One APC crashed and driver (a captain) got out and was taken by crowd to hospital. He is now deranged and demands death for his atrocities."

It said the 27th Army was ordered to spare no-one, and "shot wounded Shenyang soldiers."

In Liubukou, "four wounded girl students begged for their lives but were bayoneted," it said.
"1,000 survivors were told they could escape via Zhengyi Lu but were then mown down by specially prepared machine-gun positions," it says, adding that any ambulances trying to rescue the wounded were also attacked and their crews killed.

"With medical crew dead, wounded driver attempted to ram attackers but was blown to pieces with anti-tank weapon," it says. "In further attack APCs caught up with Shenyang military straggler trucks, rammed and overturned them and ran over troops."

It said a 27th Army officer was shot dead by his own troops, "apparently because he faltered."

"Troops explained they would be shot if they hadn't shot officer," according to the cable, which said the Chinese leadership was protected by two rings of tanks and armored personnel carriers, one inside the walls of Zhongnanhai, and another outside.
The Chinese had 100,000 soldiers surrounding the city. Not all were willing to go against the students.

There was the seed that never had a chance to germinate;
The embassy said the 27th Army were likely used because they were the most "reliable and obedient," adding that many in China believed civil war was an imminent possibility.

"Some considered other armies would attack 27 Army but they had no ammunition," Donald's cable reads, adding that many military commanders had refused to respond to a summons to a meeting with President Yang Shangkun, while the Beijing military commander had refused to supply outside armies with food, water or barracks.
Sometimes freedom's flame is only a flicker. With no tinder and in a harsh wind, it cannot last.

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