Friday, May 30, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Goddess of Democracy

May 30, 1989, was supposed to be the date that students withdrew from Tiananmen Square and back to their campuses. But that plan did not survive the day when it was made. On this day, New York Times reported the change of plan and a new symbol in the Square:
Reversing their earlier position, thousands of university students resolved on Monday to maintain pressure on the Government by continuing their round-the-clock occupation of Tiananmen Square for at least three more weeks.
In an emotional scene at the square in the heart of Beijing late Monday night, a crowd of nearly 100,000 workers and students cheered the arrival of a 27-foot sculpture modeled after the Statue of Liberty. The statue, made by local art students and dragged to the square in several pieces on tricycle carts, was called the Goddess of Democracy and Freedom, to distinguish it from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
The exuberance was a reminder of some of the students' past triumphs in rallying large numbers of people around the nation to support their demands for a more democratic system and less corruption. In recent days, the movement seems to have slumped from a combination of weariness and uncertainty about how to respond to the rise of a hard-line faction in power struggles within the Communist Party leadership.
The statue was described to have distinct Caucasian features and a large Western nose.

Since the early days of the movement, students were very quick in setting up their own broadcasting stations, first in their campuses and then in the Tiananmen Square itself. Now, they got competition. The government started to use its own loudspeakers to broadcast, overpowering students' make-shift ones.

Despite the new statue, population and morale at the Square continued to dwindle, especially among non-students such as workers.

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