Students Protest at Beijing Campus
BEIJING — BEIJING University students smashed bottles, banged on metal sheeting, and yelled at surrounding police during a tightly controlled protest June 4, marking the second anniversary of the 1989 Beijing massacre. The students hurled bottles from the windows of dormitories at the university's northwestern Beijing campus in a sporadic protest that lasted more than two hours early June 4. Breaking bottles symbolizes anger at senior leader Deng Xiaoping, whose given name sounds like the Chinese for ``little bottle.''
A large section of one dormitory blacked out after school authorities entered to try to halt the ruckus, but it appeared that none of the protesters were detained.
Before midnight, a group of more than 100 students gathered outside the university library, but were dispersed by authorities who began videotaping the crowd aided by a powerful floodlight.
Otherwise, the Chinese capital remained outwardly calm on the anniversary of the military crackdown, in which hundreds and possibly thousands of citizens were killed two years ago.
Only quiet gestures, like a few white paper flowers scattered on a footpath in a traditional sign of mourning, showed that Beijing citizens remembered the day.
Thousands of armed police manned the capital's major intersections, especially along Chang An Avenue and Tiananmen Square, the headquarters of the spring 1989 democracy movement.
Yet the security appeared less sweeping than last year. Police did not stop vehicles traveling through central Beijing at checkpoints, for example.
Instead, police targeted the most potent sources of unrest - university students and dissident intellectuals - for stringent surveillance. Monitoring of foreign journalists was also stepped up.
Hundreds of police, some shouldering rifles with bayonets, encircled Beijing University. Uniformed security guards manned all gates, barring anyone without proper identification from entering.
On campus, plainclothesmen watched students closely. At popular meeting places, newly installed video cameras and lights discouraged gatherings. In dormitories, party authorities and teachers urged students to stay indoors.
``Students now feel numb and helpless to do anything,'' said a Beijing University student who was active in the 1989 protests. ``Many are worried about jobs and their diplomas,'' he added as he stood outside his dormitory on the evening of June 4. Campus sources said students had been warned that anyone joining or watching a protest could face expulsion from school.
Chinese intellectuals also voiced despair about an inability to combat totalitarian party controls.
``We don't have guns, so we can't fight,'' said a young Chinese teacher and Tiananmen activist.
More important, the party has succeeded in ``exploiting the ignorance'' of China's peasantry and workers, making it difficult for intellectuals to mobilize them, he said.
``Life for the common people is slightly better. It is like a glass of plain water to which they have added a little bit of sugar. Ahh! They drink it and feel so comfortable.''
The teacher, standing outside a small clothing stand where he moonlights to supplement a $30 a month salary, paused when asked if Chinese are forgetting the Tiananmen events.
``What happened June 4 will stay in my heart forever,'' he said, ``but right now I've got to get on with life.''