After three decades, Tank Man is still unknown in China. We Chinese, who have learned the true story of Tank Man and the bloody Tiananmen Square Massacre, keep blaming its cover-up on the Chinese Communist Party. Except for the tens of thousands gathered at a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong yesterday night to mark 29 years since the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown, we have heard nothing from the thousands and thousands of Chinese international students in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia – not even one event held to remember and honor those who died in the pro-democracy movement. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
According to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange (Washington, DC: IIE, 2015), in the school year of 2014-15, 304,000 young people from China enrolled in universities in the United States, representing 31 percent of the total population of international students in the United States. In the past two decades, millions of young Chinese have benefited from American education and returned to China. However, they don’t seem to have absorbed anything, any American value in terms of advocating for human rights in China. Hundreds of Chinese lawyers were imprisoned and tortured, just because they defended the oppressed and fought for fundamental human rights. Thousands of Christians were harassed, arrested and persecuted for defending their religious faith. The majority of these human rights and faith activists in China have never experienced higher education in the United States or other Western countries but they have been strongly committed to defending human rights. They are vigilant and valiant.
As a Chinese international student in the United States, I searched deep in my soul and asked myself why we are silent. What does the silence of those Chinese who have enjoyed democracy and freedom of speech in the Western countries mean? Recently, Mr. Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, a Texas-based international Christian human-rights organization, published an article on the Wall Street Journal praising the Trump administration for helping to change the situation of jailed political dissidents and calling on the international community for more investigation into the torture of imprisoned human rights activists. Mr. Fu said that many human rights activists are still in jail and in danger of horrific torture; we cannot forget them, because our silence may make us complicit in their deaths.
Twenty-eight years after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops put an end to weeks of student-led pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square with tanks and machine guns, more than 20 dissidents remain in jail for campaigning over the massacre. The mothers of those students killed in the massacre were put in jail for gathering in memory of their children. In fact, our silence amounts to collusion with the Communist regime, and encourages it to further persecute brave and honest people who stand and speak up for all Chinese under the oppression of the Communist Party.
It is time to stop the collusion; it is time to break the silence; it is time to raise our voices and support those who are fighting for all of us!