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The People Will Prevail

By Weijan ShanWeijian Shan, a citizen of China, is assistant professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. / June 13, 1989



THE night of June 3, 1989, was the darkest and most miserable in the history of the People's Republic of China. The barbarous communist regime used tanks and machine guns to massacre hundreds of my beloved countrymen. Tiananmen Square was bathed in innocent blood. Many young lives, college boys and girls, perished; so did their dreams for a freer and better China. Until their last moment, they refused to believe that the ``People's Army'' would use deadly force against the people. Deng Xiaoping and his regime are guilty beyond doubt of crimes against humanity. The regime has condemned itself to the ranks of governments such as that of Nazi Germany, that in their desperate zeal for power have attacked their own people.

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But after the senseless loss of life, the people will prevail.

The regime shamelessly hailed the massacre as ``a great victory against counterrevolutionaries.'' Can it be so foolish as to think the Chinese people would cease their struggle for freedom and democracy and never challenge its authority again?

Deng and his cohorts need to be reminded of modern Chinese history, and the fact that every dictator who has opposed a people's movement has eventually found himself defeated and disgraced. History has been ruthless to those who stand in its way:

The May 4th Movement of 1919 in Beijing's Tiananmen Square heralded the demise of the northern warlord regime, and, in fact, laid the foundation for the founding of the Communist Party.

The December 19th Movement of 1935 in Tiananmen Square brought about the Xi'an Incident, in which Chiang Kai-shek's own generals forced him into a coalition with the communists to resist the Japanese invasion.

The 1948-1949 student movement in Tiananmen Square rang the death bell for the Kuomintang government on the mainland.

The April 5th Movement of 1976 in Tiananmen Square eventually led to the downfall of the ``gang of four'' responsible for tragedies of the Cultural Revolution.

Yet the history of all these incidents is written in blood: Invariably, the regime resorted to deadly force to suppress the demonstrators. Hundreds of thousands fell for the cause of a better China. Throughout China's modern history, Tiananmen Square has been a supreme trial court, with the people as the judge and jury. Dictators should beware - there have been no acquittals.

Yes, the regime's military forces, the third largest in the world, won the battle of Tiananmen Square. But it will never win the war against the people. The progressive forces within the Communist Party now have a better chance to challenge the supreme power of Deng, since he and his followers have completely lost credibility with the people.

China is in crisis. The Chinese people are in grave danger. Yet China has never been so full of hope. The people have never been so determined to see a freer, more democratic China. Like many others in history, this totalitarian regime has miscalculated. No force in the world can suppress the will of the people, not for long. The night may be long, but when the dawn comes China will be a freer and stronger nation.