2012-05-02                     May 4, 1919



In Beijing on May 4, 1919, representatives from 13 universities held an historical meeting in the morning to discuss the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War One. In the afternoon, several thousand university students held a demonstration in Tiananmen Square.

The May 4 Movement protested the unfair treatment China received at the Treaty of Versailles. Even though 140,000 Chinese laborers had worked in France as part of the British army during World War One, the treaty failed to return Shandong to China after it had been occupied by Japan.

As a result of this unjust treatment from "the West" (Britain, France, USA), many Chinese thinkers looked to "the East" (Russia) for inspiration....and they found it in Marxism. Not long after, in 1921, the Chinese Communist Party was established.  Some of its leading founders were May 4 Movement leaders.

Some historians ask the question: if the Treaty of Versailles had not been unfair to China, would the Chinese Communist Party have been born?  In fact, the Treaty was also unfair to Germany, and was one of the main causes of World War Two.

What a sobering thought: unfairness and injustice gave birth to World War Two and to the Chinese Communist Party.
At the end of World War Two, the West had learnt its lesson: it treated Japan in a humane way. But as regards China, for better or worse, Communism was seen as the way to bring about change

Usually on May 4, Premier Wen Jiabo visits a university and has lunch with the students. May the new generation of leaders in China also stay close to the students and uphold their hopes and dreams.