Canada’s Tienanmen

In 1989, Shengde Lian was a college student studying computer science when Hu Yaobang died. Yaobang had been one of China’s highest-ranking officials, having lost his power and influence for supporting reforms like free press and assembly.

After Hu died in April, Lian headed to Beijing as thousands of students gathered to memorialize Hu and ask for the reforms he’d supported.

When the tanks came in on June 4, thousands died. Eventually, Lian was arrested. He served six months before learning his charges, at least one of which was a capital offense. After 18 months, he was released only to learn later that his rearrest was imminent.

At that time there was a covert action in China called Operation Yellowbird, “an underground railroad [to get the Tiananmen dissidents to safety] run by an odd alliance of human-rights advocates, Western diplomats, businessmen, professional smugglers and the kings of the Hong Kong underworld.”

Having escaped through that railroad, Lian now lives in northern Virginia with his wife and children.

In 1998, I was a local reporter for a small town newspaper. Because President Bill Clinton was about to visit China, my editor was interested in stories about China.

Watching CSPAN one afternoon, I came across Lian speaking on behalf of an umbrella organization for Chinese dissidents in the US.

During our interview Lian explained that Tiananmen Square wasn’t the only location for protests in the wake of Hu’s death. That no one knew the fate of the man who provided the most famous image of the protests by blocking a row of tanks.

And that the government had negotiated with the protesters in Beijing–for a time–before moving the military in to take the lives of thousands.

Agree or disagree with the protesters in Ottawa, but realize that their government never talked with the protesters. They just sent in their equivalent of the tanks of June 4, 1989.

The death toll won’t reach that of Tiananmen’s proportions. Machiavellian leaders in the West know that it’s unpopular to use violence beyond its need. But the injustices of Ottawa otherwise reflect that of the Chinese Communist government.

Like the Chinese government of then, Canada will hunt down the truckers who peacefully left Ottawa. Our neighbor to the north has confiscated finances and even threatens to euthanize the pets of those who participated.

For many in the West, Canada’s response to the protests is a surprise. First, that Canadians would rise up in such numbers. Next, that the government would come down with such force.

Before Tiananmen Square, young Chinese revered their leaders as a Confuscian culture had taught them to do. When China turned its army against its own people, the young looked elsewhere for leadership causing Christianity to flourish in China. One protester explains:

“I was raised to believe in our government, but the government shot me in my legs,” [Qi Zhiyong] says. After June 4, “a lot of people lost confidence in the education, policy and ideology of the Communist Party. People no longer had any beliefs.

“As a result, they rushed to church.”

The Chinese government is powerful, but there are now more Christians in China than there are Communist Party members.

The Canadian government has exerted its own power against a people, who like the Chinese students of 1989, wanted to begin a conversation that would lead to reasonable conditions and freedoms.

It remains to be seen whether Canadians will encounter Christ as the Chinese did.

I don’t expect a covert plan to help truckers escape Canada. We can be certain, however, that many Canadians won’t trust their government the same way they did a month ago.

Canadian leadership might benefit from remembering a motto, an old Chinese saying, the leaders of Operation Yellowbird embraced:  “The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the yellow bird behind.”

When a predator stalks prey, another watches.

May the One who watched over Chinese dissidents and brought them to truth, prevail in Canada as well.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”