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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 25, June 6, 2009

China Today and Tomorrow

Political Notebook

Saturday 6 June 2009, by SC

Figures have lost all meaning in the conditions prevailing in the People’s Republic of China today. The fact is that what began in the early hours of June 4, 1989 at Tiananmen Square in the heart of China’s capital, Beijing, culminated in a veritable bloodbath turning the ‘Square of Heavenly Peace’ into one of earthly hell. Whether the number of those killed was 1400, 3000, 7000 or 10,000 is immaterial. It is pointless to ask if those wounded in indiscriminate firing add upto 10,000 or less. The stark reality is that the guardians of law and order deemed it necessary, prudent and politic to callously brand the massive and spontaneous non-violent demonstration for democracy—which has had few parallels in recent times—as a show organised by “counter-revolutionaries” before mowing down countless people—young and old; men, women and children—in one of the most tragic incidents in China’s history, besmirching in the process the noble ideals of socialism for which the Chinese masses endured innumerable hardships and underwent untold sacrifices in their glorious struggle for national emancipation and social regeneration.

It is futile to apportion blame at this stage. The truth is that China is experiencing a traumatic convulsion as the ruling clique clings on to power in the face of mounting waves of protest, to suppress which it has employed the most bestial methods that have earned it the epithet of “fascism” from the common citizens who were eyewitnesses to the barbaric inhumanity perpetrated at Tiananmen Square on what is now popularly described in Beijing as “Black Sunday”.

On this occasion, while offering one’s homage to the Tiananmen martyrs (many of whom perished singing the Internationale), one is reminded of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the poet laureate of India, who had expressed the anguish of his sensitive heart in the following words:

All the sorrows of the earth,
- Its sins and crimes,
- Its heart-breaks and its lust for violence,
- Have swelled like a tidal wave,
- Overleaping the banks,
- Blaspheming the skies.

- Whom do you condemn,
- my brother?
- Bow down your head—
- The sin is yours and mine.
- (The Oarsman)

One is reminded of Bishnu Dey who wrote in similar agony:
- Be afraid of the darkness no more,
- Cover your face with my hands…

The intolerable light burns today by hatred;
I have no taste for the foul day,
Darkness alone is holy,
Love’s orchestra is silenced by hatred.
Cover your face with my hands. (With My Hands)
And one is reminded of Faiz Ahmed Faiz who had this to say:
Look at those others instead,
- The ones who have freely given
- The shining coin of their blood
- In our streets.
- Though they have vanished
- All their wealth remains their own
- In their grave.

Look at those outstretched bodies
- adorned the cross that is truth
- They are immortal,
- seers and prophets
- to this day.
- (Don’t Look At Them)

But whatrever the trials and tribulations China is compelled to undergo, the Chinese are incorrigible optimists. And that is revealed best in the poetry of Shu Ting, the young Chinese poetess who came to India to attend an International Poetry Festival at Bhopal early this year. We know not where she is now. But her soul-stirring poems still resound in our hearts. She had written:

Suddenly the phoenix trees stop swaying,
- The sound of the bicycle bells is suspended
- And the earth rolls back
- To that night ten years ago.

Now the phoenix trees begin to sway again
- Flower petals are ground beneath the wheels
- To fling their perfume through the pulsing streets
- The heaven-light of memory blends
- With the sight of you.

Perhaps nothing happened: I didn’t see you at all
- Hallucination caused by this familiar road.
- But even if it did,
- I’m used to not shedding tears.
(Unexpected Meeting)

The pitch-darkness which has currently gripped China, we know, is the precursor of a new dawn that awaits it as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lie divided and a civil war overtakes the country in the aftermath of the tragedy at Tiananmen Square. Only we don’t know yet the price the Chinese people would still have to pay in coins of blood to reach that dawn.

Whatever the price, it is the Shu Tings who mirror the Chinese people’s boundless capacity to surmount the heavy odds that have befallen their fate. And the remarkable battle that the people of China have launched since June 4 against an insensate leadership bears testimony to that capacity while bringing into focus their grit and resolve to restore socialist principles on sound democratic foundations which several leaders of colossal stature successfully undermined with all strength at their command.

In this setting it is deplorable to find several governments, including our own, hesitant to call a spade a spade and openly denounce the slaughter in Beijing while some of our parties proudly proclaiming themselves as “Marxists” (for whose activities Marx must surely be turning in his grave) have, in effect, defended the despicable crime before which Jallianwalabagh pales into insignificance. Nevertheless, there is no gainsaying that the people of China enjoy, more than ever before, the solidarity of peace-loving democrats across the globe—both Marxists and non-Marxists, striving to build a world without war, hunger, want, destitution, exploitation and oppression, a world of genuine freedom where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.

No matter how the present Chinese leadership “celebrates” its “victory” today, tomorrow belongs to the people of China!

As Indians nurturing the best of feelings for their Chinese brethren in their hour of trial, we are convinced: come what may they will overcome!

(Political Notebook by S.C. written on June 6, 1989)

(Mainstream, June 10, 1989)

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