For a couple of weeks now I have been reading the New York Times articles from exactly 20 years ago (here at China Digital Times), watching the political struggle between the Li Peng hard liners and the Zhao ZiYang camp unfold. And though it can’t be as dramatic as the first time round, it is still fascinating. Even more fascinating, however is that everyone is still talking about it 20 years later.
I recently read an article about another watershed moment in history that also happened 20 years ago – namely the “Caracazo”, a populous uprising of the poor in Venezuela in February 1989 that was subsequently violently squashed by the military and resulted in the death of 300 to 3000 civilians.
Has anyone read any news articles on this massacre this year? I certainly haven’t.
Why is that? Because that was then in Venezuela and now there is a different leadership. The miracles of democracy and regime change at work! But China is a one party political system that only adds to its demerits. There can be no fresh start. What they have done 20 years ago might as well have happened yesterday, because it’s the same people, right? Wrong!
Since Bush is not in office any more, all that happened prior to 2009 is the past and it’s all forgiven. New regime, new people, new ideas! – A fresh start! But that line of thought breaks down for China of course. How can the past be forgiven, when the evildoers never got voted out of power?
The same goes for when we see a picture of a police officer beating a Tibetan (it’s the CCP that ordered him to do it!), then news stories across the globe are all over it; yet when 16 people are killed in a violent crackdown on protesters in 2001 in Argentina or 30 people killed in Brazil or a protester killed in Genoa, Italy; then that was just a couple of bad sheep – nothing worth talking about for more than a few days.
I am by no means trying to justify some of the horrible things that happen in China, but I see a vast discrepancy between how the western media scrutinizes China and the democratic world, and that’s what I disagree with!