Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wang Dan Calls For Commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre

October 1 is the National Day of the People's Republic of China. On this day, Wang Dan released a statement calling for the preparation of a world-wide commemoration of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.

The statement, titled as "Commemorating June 4th, Recover Justice, Let China become the Safe Homeland for all Chinese", is cosigned by his fellow exiled leaders Wang Juntao, Hu Ping, Chen Yizi, Liu Gang, Xiang Xiaoji, Li Jinjin, and Li Hengqing. It proclaims the planning of a series of commemorative activities in Hong Kong, Washington DC, and all over the world, as well as the publication of books and art works. It also calls for volunteers to join the efforts.

Premier Wen Jiabao Talks About Tiananmen

During his recent visit to the United States, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was interviewed by CNN's Fareed Zakaria. During the interview, Wen Jiabao was asked questions regarding Tiananmen massacre. Here are the excerpts from CNN's transcript:

Zakaria: When I go to China and I'm in a hotel and I type in the words Tiananmen Square in my computer, I get a firewall, what some people call the Great Firewall of China. Can you be an advanced society if you don't have freedom of information to find out information on the Internet?
Wen Jiabao: China now has over 200 million Internet users, and the freedom of Internet in China is recognized by many, even from the west. Nonetheless, to uphold state security, China, like many countries in the world, has also imposed some proper restrictions. That is for the safety, that is for the overall safety of the country and for the freedom of the majority of the people.
I can also tell you on the Internet in China, you can have access to a lot of postings that are quite critical about the government.
It is exactly through reading these critical opinions on the Internet that we try to locate problems and further improve our work.
I don't think a system or a government should fear critical opinions or views. Only by heeding those critical views would it be possible for us to further improve our work and make further progress.
I frequently browse the Internet to learn about a situation.

Zakaria: I will take advantage of your kindness and ask you a question that many people around the world wonder about. There is a very famous photograph of you at Tiananmen square in 1989. What lesson did you take from your experiences in dealing with that problem in 1989?
Wen Jiabao: I believe that while moving ahead with economic reforms, we also need to advance political reforms, as our development is comprehensive in nature, our reform should also be comprehensive.
I think the core of your question is about the development of democracy in China. I believe when it comes to the development of democracy in China, we talk about progress to be made in three areas:
No. 1: We need to gradually improve the democratic election system so that state power will truly belong to the people and state power will be used to serve the people
No. 2: We need to improve the legal system, run the country according to law, and establish the country under the rule of law and we need to view an independent and just judicial system.
No. 3: Government should be subject to oversight by the people and that will ask us, call on us to increase transparency in government affairs and particularly it is also necessary for government to accept oversight by the news media and other parties.
There is also another important aspect that when it comes to development of democracy in China, we need to take into account China's national conditions, and we need to introduce a system that suits China's special features, and we need to introduce a gradual approach.

In the early dawn of May 19, just a day before the martial law, then (and already disposed) General Secretary Zhao Ziyang made a surprise visit to students in Tiananmen Square for a teary farewell. Among the officers who accompanied Zhao Ziyang was Wen Jiabao, then the equivalent of Chief-of-Staff in the central government. The picture Fareed Zakaria was referring to must be one showing him with Zhao Ziyang in the Square at that moment.

At the time, Wen Jiaobao had been considered to be solidly in Zhao Ziyang's camp and was expected to be disposed in the aftermath. Yet Wen Jiabao survived the purge and eventually became the Premier himself.