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crushing liberty

Thirty years ago millions of Chinese people dreaming of liberty occupied Tiananmen (Heavenly Peace) Square in Beijing. Protestors transformed that politically sacred space into a democratic zone, creating a heady—if naive—hope among protestors. Arts students erected a goddess of liberty statue, aligning its determined face opposite the huge portrait of Mao located atop the rostrum on the Tiananmen Gate.

Thirty years ago a father sat beside his hunger-striking daughter, daubing her brow with a cool cloth. “My generation never dared speak out, much less to act out what we believed,” he sobbed. “Now my daughter’s doing it for me.” A Peking University student claimed, “There’s no way the Party will ever get things back into the old bottle! Just look around us. History’s sweeping them away!”
But, China’s rulers would not be swept away.

May 20, 1989 the Standing Committee—minus Premier
Zhao Ziyang, who had been purged for his support of liberty—and Party elders including Deng Xiaoping, declared marital law. The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) was ordered to clear out the protestors.

May 21, 1989 seven retired PLA Generals sent a letter to China’s Central Military Commission:
“Due to the exigent circumstances, we as old soldiers, make the following request: Since the People's Army belongs to the people, it cannot stand against the people, much less kill the people, and must not be permitted to fire on the people and cause bloodshed; to prevent the situation from escalating, the Army must not enter the city.”

Gen. Xu Qinxian, commander to the PLA’s 38th Army—the best-equipped army around Beijing—refused to enforce the martial law order. After Xu’s insubordination (for which he would later be court-martialed), the PLA’s 12th Army was airlifted from Nanjing province into Beijing.

On the night of June 3/4 soldiers entered Beijing, attacked protestors—killing thousands, cleared Tiananmen Square and crushed the goddess of liberty. That crackdown revealed the fundamental principles by which China’s Communist Party rule.

Last year President Xi began restricting China’s already limited religious liberty. The Pentagon estimates 3million
Uighur Muslims have been detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang province. Beijing can’t do the same to its 100million Christians, but technology enables mass repression.

Urban underground (not registered with the government) megachurches are being shut down. Last year in Henan province 10,000 Protestant churches were ordered shut, even though most were registered with the state. More than one million Christians were threatened or persecuted. Thousands have been arrested. May of this year China launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate unregistered churches.

Those arrested include
Early Rain Church Pastor Wang Yi along with his wife. In a farewell letter, Pastor Yi encouraged believers of all faiths: “In this war—in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu—the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned—the soul of man. Therefore they are doomed to lose.” ~

Dan Nygaard