For Hu the Bell Tolls

By Rose Tang.

Today, April 15, marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the

Tiananmen Movement of 1989. On this day 25 years ago, Hu Yaobang,

former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (he had been

demoted from that position in 1987) died of a heart attack. That afternoon,

Big Character posters started to appear on university campuses in Beijing,

mourning Hu’s death and voicing grievances with sentences like this: “The

one who shouldn’t die has died. Those who should die are still alive”. The

next day, memorial services were held on university campuses in several

other cities such as Shanghai. Merely two days later, on April 17, tens of

thousands of college students started to rally in Tiananmen Square — the

movement lasted until the bloodshed on June 4. So it’s not an exaggeration

to say Hu’s death sparked the whole movement.

Hu, to this day, has been considered by most Chinese people as the

cleanest and the most devoted Communist Party leader. He was known

for being liberal (he urged the Chinese to eat with knives and forks to

reduce the risk of contracting diseases) and for pushing for political

reforms. A tragic figure who died too soon, Hu was 73. More on his



Hu and former Chinese president Hu Jingtao were close colleagues and

friends in the 80’s. Hu Jingtao’s visit to the late Hu’s home in Jiangxi on

April 11 was seen by some as a signal of Beijing’s intention to reinstate

the Tiananmen Movement, but quickly the photos of Hu Jingtao’s visit

were deleted from the Chinese Internet, erasing the hopes for a change of

government’s directions.

Coincidentally, Chen Yizi, one of Hu Yaobang’s top advisors on the

economic reforms who headed a top think tank for Hu’s administration died

of cancer yesterday in his home in Los Angeles. Chen has been waiting

for 25 years in exile for a democratic China. He voiced his opposition

to the military crackdown of the student movement in 1989 and quit his

Communist Party membership on the day of the massacre. He escaped

China soon after and has been living in exile ever since. Beijing ignored his

plea to go back for medical treatment a few years ago. Chen is the latest

reformist to die in exile.

Many of them, such as astrophysicist Fang Lizhi who led the 1986 pro-
democracy movement and one of the most important mentors to student

leaders of the Tiananment Movement, and Liu Bingyan, a top investigative

journalist and reformer have passed away in exile. Former Tiananmen

student leader Wang Dan who lives in Taipei tweeted today about Chen

Yizi: “His family said he passed away very peacefully, without fear. His face

had a hint of smile. These years Old Chen lived with his family members as

a family. All the past events, endless sadness, impossible to speak about”

(“據家人轉告:’他去得很平靜,沒有恐懼,臉上隱隱掛著一絲笑.’ 這些年與


While many prominent Chinese activists are mourning both Hu and Chen

and are remembering the good old days of the good party leaders, I’m

advocating a different approach. On social media such as Twitter and

WeChat in Chinese language, I’ve been calling on the Chinese to give up

their hopes for any internal changes within the Communist Party.

In other words, I’m urging people to overthrow the Chinese Communist

regime, in a non-violent way. We students of Tiananmen only wanted to

have a dialogue with the government but ended up being slaughtered.

There’s no point to negotiate with murderers. Hu Yaobang may have been

a nice human being, but he still belongs to a dictatorship and the world’s

biggest mafia organization that’s the Communist Party. In recent years,

while the Chinese government has been turning up the heat crushing

dissent and rounding up more people and inciting more violence, some of

the most prominent Chinese activists have been engaged in movements

such as the New Citizen’s Movement or the Constitutionalism Movement,

pushing for reforms within the existing system and hoping for the Party

leaders to change. Why would those Communist thugs listen? They have

been amassing more and more power and wealth, bullying the whole world,

and even calling the bluff at the Obama Administration and the EU.

We really should abandon the hopes for any CCP leaders to grant us

mercy and we should stop waiting for any Western governments to

pressure on Beijing. They won’t. Their appeasement is for their money

and vested interests, which is a chilling reminder of the pre-WW2 world. I

don’t think Beijing has the military might or even the guts to start WW3, but

if Western governments continue to kiss its ass, we’ll continue to suffer,

more and more, either from tainted foods or the pollution they spread to

the world, or, even worse, the toxic mentality and a complete oblivion to


We should become our own saviors. I’m not the first one, nor am I the only

one advocating this. More and more Chinese, activists or ordinary citizens

are becoming impatient and are calling for a revolution. Wei Jingsheng, the

Father of Chinese Democracy who now lives in Washington D.C., has been

writing and posting about this approach. On New Year’s Day, Wei posted

a picture of a galloping horse with this message:”Reforms have died;

Revolution should be established.” And he’s very open about his support

for independence for East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and Tibet. See his articles




The fight is ours. Time to stop hoping for a good emperor to save us.

Time to stop waiting for the Chinese Communist Party leaders to have

a redemption.Time to pull back from lobbying Western governments or

organizations. Time to stop looking up to the sky. Time to look at the earth

— We should focus on grass roots movements. Those who should die will

die. Death, I write here, is not about human lives. Death to dictatorships

and tyrannies. Many of my friends inside China wrote on Twitter and

Facebook to me this message again and again: “The hours before the

dawn are the darkest, but the sun will shine on us very soon.” So let’s

gallop together to a bright future in a free China, a free Tibet, a free East

Turkestan, a free Southern Mongolia, a free Hong Kong and and a truly

independent Taiwan…

Rose Tang is a writer and artist based in New York. She survived

Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 as a student protester.

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