2012-06-06   Memories of June 4        John W


I have some very clear memories of June 4, 1989.
It was a Sunday and Hong Kong had a typhoon.
On June 3, Signal No. 8 was hoisted,
so everyone was at home,  watching the Tiananmen Square drama live on CNN TV.

The fifth floor of the building where I was living at the time,
started to take water from the heavy rain. In between breaks from watching CNN,
I was mopping up a kitchen floor!

On the morning of June 4, I remember how one HK Chinese paper (not Ming Pao) had the headline
"1,000 dead" while "The South China Morning Post" had "32 dead"

Some years later I watched the excellent documentary "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" which
claimed that the last lot of students left the square safely in the early hours of June 4.

In June 1999 I contacted James Miles, who had been BBC correspondent in Beijing in 1989.
In an email to me he wrote:
"….intellectuals …who had been staging a hunger strike on the square with the students,
 negotiated with the …troops on behalf of the students, after the troops reached the square.
As a result, the students were allowed to leave without harm….
I believe it is possible that no-one was killed on the square …..
…it does now seem that some of the reports I and others filed at the time
implying there was a bloodbath on the square proper  were misleading.
I think 'The Gate of Heavenly Peace' documentary is a good reflection of what happened."

For me, Wikipedia  puts it well: "Contrary to popular perceptions of the event,
the violence did not occur during the protests on the actual square,
but in the streets of Beijing, as the army proceeded through the city to Tiananmen Square..."