Friday, May 31, 2019

Musician keeps memory of Tiananmen Square alive

Fengshi Yang conducts the East Meets West Music Arts chamber orchestra in a previous memorial concert. 

     Music is not going to topple the Chinese Communist dictatorship.   
     More and more, it seems nothing will.   
     But music is all that Fengshi Yang has.   
     “China is not getting better,” said the Columbia College music teacher. “It’s getting worse.”
     She feels obligated to do what she can: present another commemorative concert in her hometown of Naperville, performed this Sunday by the East Meets West Music Arts chamber orchestra to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, in which Chinese students demanding democracy were slaughtered by their government.
     China does what it can to suppress the memory of the massacre, using its complete control of the Chinese online media. There, you can get in trouble for even mentioning “June 4” or “6/4.”
     In 2012, when the Shanghai stock market fell 64.89 points at the time of the anniversary, Chinese censors began blocking searches for “index” and “Shanghai stock market.”
     China can’t suppress American free speech, yet, but its chilling influence is felt right here in America’s heartland. It has increasingly tried to impose its uncritical nationalism, casting honest history as mere bigotry. Chinese exchange students sometimes push to import the propaganda they grew up on at home to American campuses. I interviewed a neighbor, born in China, who 30 years ago was a student protesting at Tiananmen Square. An American citizen now, he asked me to not only refrain from using his last name, but also his first.

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  1. Goes to show you that Free Enterprise and Democracy are not as indissoluble as we might like to think. Dictators can be good for business too.


  2. It seems to me that China's brutal domestic repression has been soft-pedaled in the U.S. for decades, ever since Nixon's visit to China. And it's gotten worse under Trump, with his admiration for the odious Xi Jinping. His trade war with China might be encouraging, if it were grounded in genuine ideology and not, as is typical with him, a tantrum that will pass in a month or so.

  3. Here in Ahia, you can also get in trouble for even mentioning “May Fourth" (as we like to call what everyone elsewhere refers to as "Kent State"), or “The Shootings"--it all depends on where you are and who you're talking to--and what bar you happen to be in.

    Fifty years next May...hard to believe...and yes, we're gonna have a wing-ding. It'll be a BFD at KSU, 42 miles from where I'm typing this. My wife was there that tragic and fateful weekend in 1970, so we'll be there next year, same as in '95 and 2010. Damn betcha!

  4. "Music hath charms to sooth a savage breast. To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." but evidently the commissars are immune.


  5. Thank you so VERY much for this article. A friend & I were going to the First Buffalo Grove Pride Parade - organized b 13 yr old Molly Pinta & (wonderfully organized event !) We wanted to find something else to do after & we were able to attend this beautiful & moving concert. I was brought to tears more than once. Because of this, I will now have more reverence for the date of June 4th and the struggles& persecution that are still real and fresh today.


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