NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ847212
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-29
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
The Big Con: China's Historical Sabotage
Terrence Cheng
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n38 pB10 May 2009
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese military, under orders from the highest levels of government, violently crushed peaceful civilian demonstrations in Beijing, most symbolically in and around Tiananmen Square. In the end, the Chinese government claimed that the death toll was approximately 200, but the Chinese Red Cross reported 2,000 to 3,000 deaths. The days that followed June 4 rang with cries of shocked outrage from around the world, but two decades later those calls for justice and change are but a whisper, thanks in large part to China's dominant global influence. The author experienced a similar conflict of priorities when he reached out to more than 60 professors from various departments across the City University of New York's 23 institutions, in an attempt to organize an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He understood that some would not want to participate in an event of this nature, but he did not foresee an openly hostile opposition from one of the professors. Not surprisingly, given this opening salvo, there would be no event--to the author's great disappointment, for scholars have produced important work regarding Tiananmen since the massacre. Despite efforts by academics, activists, writers, and filmmakers to properly document those fateful days in 1989, the impact of Tiananmen has been diminished by the Chinese government's control of what is said about the massacre. So what does Tiananmen Square mean today? In microcosm it means that some historians see no "scholarly merit" in the shadows of a tragedy. On the world's stage, Tiananmen ultimately symbolizes how China's government continues to control the history and knowledge of its people. But regardless of the size or scale of the obfuscation--whether it is committed by a single academic or the world's most influential superpower--historical sabotage is historical sabotage. If allowed to continue, it will result in Tiananmen being completely forgotten, which is what the Chinese government undoubtedly wants.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China (Beijing)