(Image is from buzzfeed)
In 1989, the Berlin Wall had officially fallen on November 6. Nine days later, between 200 and 300 people were fired upon by the People’s Liberation Army in a public square. Both events were reactions to the same movement: an end to the Cold War.
In Germany, the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the unification of a nation that had been torn between two opposing political ideas.
In China, the Tiananmen Square massacre symbolized how a country was coping with those that sided with an opposing idea.
Those that believe they are right, make the other increasingly wrong.
On Sunday, November 28, 2014, tens of thousands of students broke into government headquarters in Hong Kong. They were protesting the pending threat that the national government in Beijing would not allow democratic voting for the coastal city’s elections in 2017. President Xi Jinping believes that the democratic vote would ruin the great “Chinese Dream”: to finally all belong to and work as one nation. President Xi feels that an appointed government that supports his “Chinese Dream” would be more appropriate.
The student protesters disagree. They believe that the current national government should uphold their 1997 agreement of “one country, two systems”. This agreement was created when Britain gave the bouncing, capitalist, metropolis over to China. The agreement outlined how China would be the owner of Hong Kong, yet the city would function as an autonomous politico-economy. In the same agreement, the city was promised a democratic election by 2017.
In 1997, some Hong Kongers foresaw the outcome.
When the ’89 massacre happened, the world was appalled. As the media began to leak images and reports, which were almost immediately withdrawn, the people were shocked. The people could not believe the ruthless aggression towards the populace, nor could they believe the swift omnipotence that the Chinese government had at censorship. The governing nations of the world reacted by imposing sanctions on China.
So, in 1997 when China took legal control over Hong Kong, there was an civic exodus. Many sought economic and social refuge in Canada, Australia and Britain.
Now, we could talk about Communism versus Capitalism, but those are terms and ideas that we are bored with. What we want to know is whether there will be a massacre or not. We want to know if the violence will continue. Not because we need to satiate some sadistic need, but rather because we need to hope that the world is going in a better direction.
When the PLA unloaded live ammunition into the bodies of student protesters in 1989, it did so to kill an idea: Capitalism. This idea was against the idea that existed outside the lecture halls: Communism. Therefore, it was real guns versus spoken words. The battle was won by the government (even though the war continued). The orders to kill were given on the basis that it would teach the young, idealistic students a lesson, and that is that the authority is always right. To have Freedom was to obey the State-Leviathan.
When students marched into the government headquarters in Hong Kong in 2014, they were not reaching towards something, they were reacting to a renege of a verbal contract. This doesn’t mean one is not as important as the other, rather that there will hopefully not be as much violence as decades past. This is not as rock-and-roll as the fight for freedom, because democracy does not necessarily entail freedom. However, it is just as important to fight for a governing body to keep its word.