Amid a new wave of repression, china needs the spirit of 1989 as much as ever before
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Tiananmen. Is there any word freighted with such divergent meaning?
To much of the world, Tiananmen denotes tragedy—democracy denied, students slaughtered, an authoritarian regime that unleashed tanks in the early hours of June 4, 1989, yet still rules today. For most Chinese, however, Tiananmen—or the Gate of Heavenly Peace located in the physical center of Beijing—symbolizes the heart of a resurgent civilization. On China’s official national emblem, Tiananmen is topped by stars and burnished in gold, a fitting hue for a country that has, in the quarter-century since the June 4 carnage, enjoyed the greatest economic expansion in history. So thoroughly has the memory of bloodstained protest been scrubbed from the nation’s consciousness that Chinese online search results first point users to the time of the daily flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square.