The class of the June 4th

“Justice won’t die,” Sin Jit Ming, a twelve-year-old boy, wrote in a Christmas card.

In a month, Sin’s card, together with other thousands of Christmas cards will be sent to a group of elder people, whose sons or daughters were killed during the June Fourth crackdown, a pro-democracy student protests violently suppressed by the Chinese government in Tiananmen on June 4th, 1989.

Sin, a year one student at the Pui Ching Secondary School, wrote his card while visiting the June 4th Museum with his grandpa.

Looking at the child giving his card to volunteers at the museum, the grandpa put on a satisfying smile. “If he sees these facts (pictures and videos at the museum) and writes to those witnesses, he won’t just listen to whatever he was told,“ the old man said.

“He can learn nothing about the truth (of the June 4th) in school, nothing.”

 Tang Ngok Kwan, a volunteer at the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, led a team to compare how all the four versions of history textbooks used in high schools in Hong Kong wrote about the June Fourth crackdown.

According to their research, most textbooks used less than 200 words for the crackdown and one mentioned the issue only in the annotation. Some of the key facts were missing.

“All the versions never mention students’ democracy pursuits, the number of the dead and the injured, or the People’s Liberation Army’s violence,” Tang said. “Simply saying that the PLA interfered a student movement does not explain anything.”

 However, the inadequacy of textbooks’ information does not seem to be a barrier for teenagers in Hong Kong to know about the June Fourth crackdown.

Under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, Hong Kong, a former British colony, can remain parts of its own political and social features, which offers more space for the freedom of speech.

Therefore, students can have various access to approach the June Fourth crackdown, while the Communist Party of China has tried to erase facts about it on the mainland.

To help students better understand the democracy protests and the crackdown in 1989, some schools organize their students to visit the June 4th Museum as parts of their general education; each year, the June 4th Stage, a non-profit troupe, will tour numbers of schools with their original works about the crackdown; there is also an underground band, the VIIV, often giving free performance for the youngsters.

 On Friday, 35 year three students from the Lau Pak Lok Secondary School visited the June 4th Museum. They were the 63th groups of student visitors this year.

Cheung Yee Wing, teacher of the Modern China course, said, “We realize there are not enough material in textbooks for students to make a judgment or even an opinion about the June 4th and I hope they can have a clearer idea here. ”

“Is the video real?”

“Where did you get it? “

“How many people died?”

“How do you know……”

While her classmates were asking questions like shooting guns, Lam Shui Chun stood in a corner and was absorbed in reading an old piece of Wen Wei Po. The headline was “Blood Washed Beijing”.

“It (old newspapers) is better than Youtube,” Lam said. This was the first time she figured out what happened before and after the June 4th. “When I watched videos about the crackdown on line, (I found) many of them were too fragmentary. I want to know it from the start to the end. “

Instead of enumerating historical facts, the June 4th Stage invites students to tell stories with actors. The troupe often randomly picks up audience to play roles like the solders, student protestors, parents and etc. in the performance.

Put a Little White Flower in the Square is the most well-known play of the June 4th Stage. The story is about the friendship and love of a journalist from Hong Kong and two student protestors in Beijing in 1989. Their encounter, separation and reunion 20 years later touched many people.

In one of the anonymous thank you letters to the troupe, a student who was invited to play a protestor from the Peking University wrote, “I can feel their (student protestors) eager for freedom and democracy. I feel grateful to be born in this era when I don’t have to sacrifice my life for anything.”

There are hundreds of thank you letters like that on the wall of Lit Ming Wai’s office. As the president of the troupe, Lit is busy contacting schools about the campus tour in 2015.

”We are proud to offer national education on the stage,” she said. “For the post-90s generation in Hong Kong, a crackdown in Beijing decades ago may seem too far, but the humanity, passion and idealism among the youth are universal.”

So far, The June 4th Stage has played 135 sessions for more than 40,000 students from 88 high schools.

You think it funny/Why I am as silly as you/Standing in front of guns/The story is not over/Cause you and me are here/The courage on that day is still here

 On November 12th, the VIIV band played their new song, the Courage on That Day, to student protestors at Admiralty, the main spot of the recent democracy protest for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Like their many other songs, this one is to memorize the June Fourth protests, but has a more reality based approach.

“It (listening to the song) is like a travel through space and time,” said Lee Wing Yiu, a year two student at the Tuen Mun Government Secondary School. As a student protestor who has been through tear gas and pepper spray in the last two month, Lee found that song quite relatable. “I never feel so close to them (student protestors in 1989). We are not guilty of asking for freedom,” he said.

While the democracy protests in Hong Kong went on, Yang Ren Wang, a history teacher of the Renmin University High School in Beijing, decided to take a risk, giving a class about the June Fourth crackdown.

“None of the four versions of history textbooks (for high school students) mentioned a word about the June 4th (the protests and the crackdown),” Yang said. “It’s a shame.”

When Yang asked his year two students if they had ever heard of the June 4th or knew anything about it, among 26 students in the top class of one of the top high schools in China, only one boy raised his hand.

“”My father was on the scene,” he said. “He saw that students burned a soldier to death. “

“They are mobs. They deserved to be killed.”

SCMP

Million Mask March

Hong Kong—Groups of people wearing masks have gathered at Admiralty and Central to support the democracy protests here during the annual global movement, the Million Mask March.

Since the afternoon, the number of people with a uniformed mask on their faces has begun to increase in the streets and many of them have been on their way to Central, one of the main spots of the recent democracy protest for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

A popular facebook account called Hong Kong V Club said that a march would officially begin on seven p.m. and participants were required to wear masks and to gather at Central. “People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their PEOPLE,” read a banner on the page.

“Everyone wearing this mask shares the same pursuit of freedom and shoulder the same responsibility to fight against dictatorships,” said Mr. Chan who works at the Central Ferry Piers and did not want to tell his full name. Preferring to be called as “Anons”, Chan and his groups of peers wearing masks are members of the Million Mask March, and calling themselves “Anons” is a way they hail to their enlightener V.

Inspired by a British movie V for Vendatta, in which a masked man known as V urges his fellow citizens to rise up on Nov. 5th to go against tyranny and oppression, the Million Mask March encourages people around the world to join peaceful marches each year, with aims to shed light on corrupt government and to set citizens free from oppression.

This year’s march happens to meet with the democracy protest in Hong Kong. Saying that the Hong Kong government has changed a lot during the recent decade, Chan took now as the very moment to hold the march. “The (Hong Kong) government’s control over freedom of speech is becoming tighter and tighter. I think I should stand out and protect my freedom as a citizen,” said Chan.

Another “Anons” Lee Ming Wah who works at a hotel near Admiralty said, “I just want to do anything I can to support protestors, even what I can do is as small as wearing a mask and show what I stand for. “ The back of his black cloak reads, “Universal Suffrage”.

On Aug. 31, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, ignoring popular pressure in Hong Kong for “one man, one vote”, passed a resolution saying that no more than three candidates, selected by Beijing’s carefully vetted nominating committee, will be allowed to run for chief executive in 2017. The decision prompted a boycott of university classes, and triggered the start of a long-planned campaign of civil disobedience to press for full democracy.

In the latest press conference, the Chief Superintendent Hui Chun Tak was asked about the Million Mask March issue and said, ”Being anonymous does not mean that one can avoid taking legal responsibilities.”

He also said that more police have been sent out and they will do their duty.

 

The Umbrella Movement? CENSORED!

Hong Kong—Four a.m. on Sep. 29, before throwing herself on the bed, Elaine Wang couldn’t wait to post photos of the chaos in the streets and wrote, “Tear gases were released at least five times.” on her Wechat, a major social network service based on mobiles in mainland China.

Hours ago, this Zhejiang girl was doing her first breaking news at Admiralty, central part of Hong Kong, with thousands of protestors who were pressuring Beijing to allow the Hong Kong public to nominate candidates for chief executive in 2017.

Experiencing a democracy protest first time in her life, Elaine, a journalism postgraduate at the University of Hong Kong, was eager to share what happened here with her friends in mainland China, where democracy protests rarely happened or are reported.

However, later she found only two of her friends liked that post on Wechat. One is studying in America and the other is travelling in Thailand. With suspicion, Elaine asked some of her friends in mainland to check whether they could view her posts or not, and the answers were identical, NO.

She was blocked.

Since Sep. 28, the first day of the protests, phrases related to the activities, such as “tear gases”, “Hong Kong police”, and even “umbrella”, the equipments protestors used against tear gases and pepper sprays, have been largely blocked in Weibo, another major social network service in mainland China, according to Weiboscope, a program at the HKU, monitoring censorships in mainland.

In this war of censorships, media on the mainland have been put into a difficult situation. Related departments of the Chinese government has already firmly rooted in the newsroom in some major media companies and mustered up its energy to tighten controls over online information. In China, Big Brother is watching you.

“All the four major web portals (Sina, Tencent, Sohu, NetEase) have received the same command that forbids posting or spreading any negative information about the issue you said (democracy protests in Hong Kong),” said Guo Biao, an editor in Sina’s Beijing station, who has recently held several articles supporting protests in Hong Kong. “As for the positive information, all the news should come from Xinhua News Agency and China News Service.”

Guo refused to tell the master of the command, yet a network editor in Sohu may give some hints. “In Beijing, local network culture management office has established its office in major media companies,” said Zhang Yanyan. “Censors there will decide what news should be blocked and send instructions to the newsroom.”

There are various network management offices and associations in mainland China. All the local Internet associates will closely follow the latest policies from the China Internet Network Information Center, whose director, Lu Wei, is also the deputy minister of the Central Publicity Department.

Earlier in August, the CNNIC released a regulation on the development of instant communication tools and its public information services, which says public information providers need to register in real names and accept certain censorships from CNNIC.

“We should push the work of Internet safety to a higher level,” said Lu, when he visited a new Internet Information Center in Guangxi on Sep. 19. “We will try our best to create a safe, orderly and stable Internet environment.”

 

Lu means what he said. The work of CNNIC and its teams covering major media companies around the country seems to be highly efficient.

“Normally, there will be a kick-off meeting first, and the rest is E-mails work,” said Zhang. Most of the times, no standard process is required. All censors have to do is to send an E-mail to various departments in the company. “Once a command is made, it must be strictly implemented,” Zhang said.

In Sina, Guo had similar experience. “We have to do the propaganda work well for the Party (the Chinese Communist Party) and protect its holiness,” he said, half self-mocking and half serious.

Sina microblog has just been listed on Nasdaq in April. As one of the biggest social network services in China, the company wants a stable growing environment, and not turning against the government seems to be a safe play.

“The company will be fined if some leaked posts have aroused extensive attention in the society,” Guo said. He also said basically things allowed to be reported are daily news of folks, not “survival problems”, such as oil leakages, pollution or any major accidents whether man-made or natural. “Problems like that touch the red line (Threaten the authority of the Party).”

As Tecent forbids its workers to give interviews in any form, all the contacts refused the interview; however, one person from the Mobile Internet Business group said, ”Their (department in charge of censoring) technique is advanced. They can find you, if they want to.” Refusing to give her name for safety reasons, the worker in Tecent left a shuddering message.

Since July, Guo has started to apply for the membership of the CCP. “After all, ideal cannot feed you,” he said.

backchina

Recent protests here for full democracy has aroused contradictory feelings among mainland students

Hong Kong—Recent protests here for full democracy has aroused contradictory feelings among mainland students in and out of Hong Kong who doubt the essence of the protests and at the same time feel perplexed to choose between the pursuit of democracy and the stability of China.

In the early hours of last Sunday, Occupy Central, a civil disobedience campaign forcing Beijing to allow Hong Kong to nominate candidates for the chief executive’s post in 2017, had officially started after clashes at government headquarters between police and student activists during a student strike launched on last Monday.

Since then, just like many students in Hong Kong, dozens of mainland students have been scattered in Central, Admiralty and Causeway bay, the main spots of the massive democracy protests, yet few participated as protestors.

There are concerns about the possible punishments from the central government, as He Jinghan, a Shenyang student studying Public Policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that mainland students suffer from a “split mind”, “For me, it makes perfect sense that students choose to go strike to make known their position when rational communication fails, but we (mainland students) may be on the blacklist (of the central government) if we are active in the protests”.

However, reasons for many mainland students’ absence of the protests may be beyond the fear of being targeted by the central government.

“I’m impressed that Hong Kong people can really stand up and criticize the government when things go wrong, especially students here,” Tony Cong, coming from Hebei and currently studying International Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, said, “But I don’t think they (students) have a mature plan for their next step; only disagreeing with the central government is far from enough”.

Cong’s words echo a contradictory feeling among some mainland students in Hong Kong. Though supporting the idea of pursuing democracy, Guang, a Shandong student studying Electronic and Information Engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, found some students behaved “childishly” in the protests. “Sometimes I think they are not asking for full suffrage but are taking revenge for students died in Tiananmen 1989 (a democracy protest launched by students in 1989),” Guang said, refusing to tell his full name because the issue is sensitive in mainland.

In his two nights in Admiralty, Guang witnessed a student stopped a police car like the tanker man (a young man trying to stop a tank from approaching to Tiananmen in the protest in 1989) and said “if you want to go, run over me”. “It’s just not a rational way to fight for democracy, but an intervention of law enforcement,” Guang said.

The democracy protests in Hong Kong have also been hit news among students in mainland. The Chinese Government’s censorship on the news seems to motivate young people to find out what exactly happened through all the resources they can reach.

Xie, a year 3 undergraduate studying Law at the China University of Political Science, texted to one of his friend studying journalism at the CUHK to ask about the situation in Hong Kong in the early morning the protest broke out, and reminded that friend to “be fully aware of the situation; take the right side and stand firmly on it”, because recently one of his teacher Teng Biao was expelled for participating the democracy protests in Hong Kong.

“I wonder if the police really shot or beat anyone and if the people’s liberation army arrived in the streets,” Xie said on condition of anonymity for fear of being punished in the mainland, “Because the degree of violence is a symbol which may change actions of civil disobedience into a political resistance”.

When speaking of democracy protests and violence, many mainland students will think of the protest in Tiananmen in 1989 when hundreds of students were killed by PLA and the Tiananmen incident has been regarded as the death of idealism of students in mainland by some scholars.

“Students from mainland may have an instinctive resistance to student movements,” Xie said, “I hope they (student protestors) will fail, so they can learn the lesson that democracy is not something can be achieved by rallying and boycotting classes. Democracy pays”.

When some question the method and actual outcome of the democracy protests, Li Zhao, a Beijing student studying European Union at the University of Newcastle, said that he thought the essence of the protest was not about democracy at all, but was actually “separatism” which would disrupt the development of China’s political civilization.

“I think what the pan-democracy camp want is the independence of Hong Kong,” Li said, “As for the students, I think some of them may not accept the phrase “to pursue the independence of Hong Kong”, but they may have a faint desire for independence or at least against whatever policy the Communist Party of China passed”.

Though Li agreed on the idea that people in Hong Kong have a stronger sense of social responsibility, he said, “They are only responsible to Hong Kong society not China’s”.

To some degree, Li is not alone. Tony Cong also wondered if it was British government who made the decision, what would be the response of Hong Kong people. “Maybe, Hong Kong is not targeting at the decision, but at the central government and mainlanders,” Cong said.

On Aug. 31, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, ignoring popular pressure in Hong Kong for “one man, one vote”, passed a resolution saying that no more than three candidates, selected by Beijing’s carefully vetted nominating committee, will be allowed to run for the chief executive’s post in 2017. The following democracy protests escalated and last Sunday the local police used tear gases and pepper spray to the protestors which has led to large press coverage in the global community. The protests are still on in the busy districts of Hong Kong.

Hundreds of Hong Kong students and supporters from various circles of society marched to Central from Tamar Park to appeal for more participation from the public

Hong Kong—Hundreds of Hong Kong students and supporters from various circles of society marched to Central from Tamar Park to appeal for more participation from the public, said the secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.

At three o’ clock this afternoon, around five hundred students in Hong Kong started a march form Tamar Park, right besides the government headquarters, to Central with supporters from more than forty social organizations, according to the HKFS.

To enlarge the influence of the strike, Alex Chow, the secretary of the HKFS, is engaged in building a connection between students and the community outside schools. “We want more Hong Kong people to join us. The strike is not only in campus.”

Referring that citizens enjoy freedoms of assembly and demonstration, Chow said the HKFS did not apply for the permission of the police about their march but they did notify them. In spite of being stopped several times by the police, saying it (the march) was illegal, protestors still succeeded in approaching to Central.

Yesterday leaders of the students strike asked Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive of Hong Kong to address the public but were held by Leung’s security staff. The student strike will tend to be escalated, if Leung refuses to show up until tomorrow night. Chow said, “To seek an upgrading level of actions, the strike may involve the possibility of having civil disobedience actions”.

As time goes by, some students are not optimistic about Leung’s response. Erika Leung, studying Business in the Hong Kong Shue Yan University, said she thought that the HKFS ‘s expectation to the local officials was too high and that she would not join the march.

So far Beijing has remained unchanged about its decision on Hong Kong’s suffrage, regulating that no more than three candidates, nominated by a pro-Beijing committee, can run for the chief executive in 2017.

This Monday, president Xi Jinping said the implementation of “one man, one vote” must be tailored to the special situation of the country and the city, when he met with a group of tycoons from Hong Kong. In respond, Chow said, “If they (officials in the central government) really treat themselves as civil servants, they should respect people’s voice, not simply determine the issue by thinking whether it is safe to the authority or not”.

Students from mainland were also found in Tamar Park, but five undergraduates from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said, “Of course we won’t join the march, (we are) afraid of being caught”. Preferring not to be named, for the topic is sensitive in the mainland, one of them said, “To support the boycott is one thing; to support them (students in Hong Kong) to pursue democracy is another thing. I don’t think the boycott will help, but I hope they can find an effective way to democracy”.

Approximately 1,000 students are expected to join a week-long boycott at Hong Kong University against Beijing’s resolution on Hong Kong’s suffrage

Hong Kong—Approximately 1,000 students are expected to join a week-long boycott at Hong Kong University against Beijing’s resolution on Hong Kong’s suffrage, said Yvonne Leung, President of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union.

On Aug. 31, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, ignoring popular pressure in Hong Kong for true universal suffrage, passed a resolution saying that no more than three candidates, selected by Beijing’s carefully vetted nominating committee, will be allowed to run for the chief executive’s post in 2017.

Three days after the resolution, the HKUSU announced a plan “to arouse public awareness on the democratic development of Hong Kong” by joining a city-wide student boycott of classes.

The Union president Leung said “having civil nomination” would be their first demand. Hong Kong residents want to nominate their own candidates for the chief executive in 2017, instead of voting for candidates who have already been selected by the pro-Beijing committee.

Subsequently, the following demand would be having “the abolition of the functional constituencies in the legislative council,” which can prevent businessmen, professionals or other interest groups from interfering the realization of true universal suffrage.

Besides, four principal officials responsible for the political reform consultation are expected “to step down” and citizens in Hong Kong deserve an apology from the NPC for its restrictive decision.

The boycott will start from next Monday with about1000 students at HKU, according to a previously launched online signing campaign made by the HKUSU. The number of students from other schools who plan to participate has not been clear yet.

When asked about different voices on the strike, Leung said some may be considering whether they should join or not, but nobody actually opposes it.

Anyone opposing the strike may simply tend to keep silent when they are not asked, However, Yao Yijun, a postgraduate studying Science, said, “I think I cannot do anything for politics by the boycott and I don’t think it is students who should be responsible for the political transformation”.

While the HKUSU is busy preparing for the strike, the president of HKU, Peter Mathieson reiterated that he is not encouraging or discouraging the strike, and that University executives remain neutral on the issue. Mathieson did say, however, that the University would take every possible action to help any person who has legal action against him or her because of the strike.

He also said in his open reply to the HKUSU,I am determined to provide an environment at HKU where different opinions can flourish and be openly debated”.

The Nature of the Strike

So far, the HKUSU has not planned to change the strike into an action of civil disobedience.

“It doesn’t need to turn into a civil disobedience action,” Leung said this week, “because at this stage we announce to students that we’re having just a student strike, which will not bring them legal consequence. We do not wish to alter the nature of the movement”.

An uncertainty about the nature of the strike makes some students hesitated. Chan Wing Yau, a year two student in Arts, said, “I am still considering (whether to join the strike), because I still don’t know the nature of the activity and its impact on the society…but I think it (the boycott) can serve as a signal to Beijing to express our point of view and also to raise awareness from the society”.

Some are not sure about the rationale for the strike. With no intention to belittle the boycott, Alejandro Trinidad Reyes, a visiting associate professor in the department of Politics and Public Administration, said that he was not sure if he fully understood the value of it.

“Protest is meant to sort of inconvenience or irritate of people who are doing something wrong that you wish to change,” Reyes said. “I’m not sure students’ not attending classes will do that. In fact they only do that to inconvenience themselves…In my mind the boycott doesn’t necessarily actually affect the people who are making the policies.”

The Expected Result and The Next Step

Leung conceded that it would be “too idealistic, nearly impossible,” for the strike alone to bring about their demands. She said the students might also join the civil disobedience campaign planned by the Occupy Central movement if the Occupy Central actions begin soon. “Perhaps we will march together and have a huge way of civil disobedience,” she said. “But if the Occupy Central tends not (to be) happening soon, perhaps we’ll initiate our own (protests). Possibly something like… the sit-in movement.”

 

The Hong Kong Federation of Students also does not take the student strike as an end. “The university strike would be a starting point for a long-call citizen movement to engage students and the society as a whole, because when students launch a strike, it’s kind of a gesture to demonstrate that even the new generation is not satisfied with the current situation,” said Alex Chow, the Secretary General of the group.

Others also acknowledge that a student strike is not going to bring universal suffrage to Hong Kong. “We know it’s a contest between eggs and stones, but if we fail to do this, then we are even more powerless,” said Mei Yee, a graduate studying Social Work.