Being Honest about Tiananmen Square


Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square

USA – -( The 30th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square is a good time to face the truth about the Chinese communist totalitarian dictatorship. The real lesson is one almost no one wants to think about.

My analysis of this event is influenced by my work on a new book on China that will come out in October, a podcast episode we recently released, and reading two books on the cost of ignoring fascist dictators in the 1930s.

Let me explain my thinking about the key lesson from 1989 by taking you back to the 1930s and 1940s.

Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year is a haunting memoir of a political prisoner in Fascist Italy who is exiled to an extraordinarily poor town in Southern Italy. It is worth reading on its own right because it is the opposite of the idyllic, romantic vision of Under the Tuscan Sun. Levi’s fascist dictatorship is horrifyingly dehumanizing, corrupt, and brutal. The peasants are repressed and impoverished to a point where they have no hope, only endurance.

Equally pertinent to thinking about the Tiananmen massacre is Lynne Olson’s amazing biography Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler. Olson captures in agonizing detail the human cost of resisting the Nazis, the viciousness and brutality of the Germans during World War II, and the heartrending stories of men and women torn from their homes, their loved ones, and their lives.

President Trump’s visit to Normandy to pay tribute to those who landed 75 years ago is a reminder of the price Americans and the Allies paid to defeat and destroy the Nazi dictatorship.

What does this have to do with Tiananmen Square you might ask. The answer is: Everything.

Tiananmen Square was the test of whether modernity and openness could occur within the Chinese communist totalitarian system or whether standing up to the state would not be tolerated. The price of dissent was prison or death.

Since then, General Secretary Xi Jinping has further consolidated and expanded the power of the totalitarian system to monitor and control the lives of the Chinese people. The private space in which one would have dissenting thoughts or share dissent with one’s family or neighbors is being squeezed more and more every day.

Some human rights activists focus on the plight of the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups (more than 1 million Muslims are in concentration camps for compulsory re-education in the Xinjiang province) or the Tibetans (who are gradually having their entire culture destroyed).

However, focusing on only two ethnic minorities misses the larger truth. Under the rule of the Communist Party, all of China is a police state. Every Chinese citizen is in danger of the state monitoring their every action and punishing them for deviancy from the party line.

Tiananmen was an aberration only in that there was a split in the senior leadership. There were some senior leaders who wanted a more open system. However, when that toleration for dissent began to spin out of control, the most senior leaders insisted on imposing order and obedience – by force and publicly killing people, if necessary.

General Secretary Xi has combined advancing technological capability for surveillance with an anti-corruption campaign which can also be seen as an anti-opponent campaign. The same goals for dispelling opposition and maintaining leadership control are reflected in the social credit score the Chinese Communist Party has created.

To understand the evolution of the Chinese communist scoring system, which will grant every Chinese citizen advantages or disadvantages depending on their social score, it is helpful to readGeorge Orwell’s 1984 or to look at how the Stasi (the East German secret police) tried to get every East German to spy on every other East German.

The sad reality is that we today have no strategy to change the evolution of China away from a Communist Party-controlled giant surveillance system. We are not even prepared to begin talking honestly about it.

We insist on treating General Secretary Xi as President Xi even though this is a complete misstatement of his true power base. His real power comes from the Chinese Communist Party, for which he is the general secretary.

The lesson of the 1930s and of Tiananmen is that democracies that hide from the reality of brutal dictatorships often ending up paying much higher prices as those dictatorships gain in power and capability. There was a time in the early ‘30s when the democracies could have defeated the dictatorships at minimum cost. By the late ‘30s, it was going to be extraordinarily hard and even when the dictatorships split – with the Soviet Union siding with us (after Hitler attacked it) – it was extraordinarily hard to re-establish freedom in continental Europe.

The China of 1989 that massacred citizens in Tiananmen Square was much weaker than the China of 2019. And the China of 2029 will be much stronger than the current country. At the present rate, it will be an even more controlled dictatorship oppressing people at home and selling the tools of oppression to dictators around the world.

This is the sober lesson of Tiananmen Square after 30 years.

Your Friend,

Newt's World Episode 18: D-Day and the FDR Prayer

On Thursday, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. In this week's episode of my Newt's World podcast, I revisit D-Day and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's powerful prayer to the nation following the invasion. Listen for free here>>

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

P.S. My new book, Trump's America: The Truth About Our Nation's Great Comeback is out and available for order.

About Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is well-known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. After he was elected Speaker, he disrupted the status quo by moving power out of Washington and back to the American people.

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  • 12 thoughts on “Being Honest about Tiananmen Square

    1. You are fooling yourself if you don’t realize that most US citizens are as complacent as the basic Chinese citizen. After Tiananmen the government conceded some tastes of freedom … sort of a free market, sort of the right to travel, sort of the right to get a job, any job, so as to make money and buy stuff like the rest of the world’s citizens, and so on and so on, but all only if they conceded to rule by a one party government … kinda of like here in California. Folks, let me tell you, the majority of your fellow citizens are just as willing to sell their citizen birthrights for the proverbial “bowl of porridge”. I just can’t believe the willingness of Americans who want to rush headlong into giving up the 2nd and of course their State’s Rights assurances that the Electoral College provides. Sad, sad, sad.

    2. The sad reality is that we today have no strategy to change the evolution of the USA away from a Progressive controlled giant surveillance system.

      1. @Proctor, How about restoring pride in American history by restoring the grade school and high school curriculum? Taking back the school boards is critical and doable.

    3. Keep buying that junk made in China and keep making them stronger. We have done this over the years at the requests from the democrats and the global morons and now we are facing a communist country that can rival our military. Threats of gun confiscation comes from all for only one purpose and that purpose is people control. It doesn’t matter if it is China or our own country telling us it is for our best interests or for the children. I can tell you after 76 years on this planet that I don’t need any 30 or 40 year old telling me they are better at making my decisions than I am. My wife and I have raised four children who have not suffered so the “for the children” excuse is not even applicable. They can take their power hungry little brains and flush them down the toilet for all I care. I am a free person and have always been free to make my own decisions and I intend to stay that way.

      1. @Tcat, Yes. The chicoms are positioning themselves for victory over us. They have weapons in space, but we do not. They make antibiotics, we can not. They can turn off our electricity; we can not turn off theirs. Their R and D comes from us. And we have made it all possible for them by recognizing them as the official China and trading with them in preference to the Taiwanese.
        The best thing for America’s future is to not trade with Communist China at all. No Chinese profits, no Chinese war machine. (But no Walmart either)

    4. The Chinese took a couple of days to truck/rail in Mongolian troops that had no connection (culture, connection or otherwise) with the city dwelling people–made the killing them easier. This would happen in our country–the local state’s national guard would not be used in that state–forces from elsewhere wold be brought in if things got communist/socialist Democrat Party crazy–and they will the way things are going in the Democrat Party leadership.

    5. You should talk to t(the survivors of the massacre at t(e Mt. Carmel Church in Waco, TX. America as we know it ended tha5 day when the Tank crashed thru the walls and men, women and children were incinerated or, shot in the back trying to escape the carnage! You don’t think the same could happen to you? Think again!

    6. If we don’t stand up for what is right the commicrat/socialists will be bringing their version of communism here. It always starts out and sounds so nice but when in power, all who disagree with anything are bullied, talked down, locked up, beaten or murdered. If one can get past the propaganda machine that is the news, you should have no trouble finding all of these things happen here NOW. If this were 1775, the balls would already be flying. Sooner or later, they will get around to mass gun confiscation. Most, if not all, of the demoncratic presidential hopefuls are already promising to do exactly that if elected. It would have happened already if Trump had not been elected. They would have tried it. Trump can’t stay in office indefinably If you are not already preparing you should be. As far as I am aware of, all totalitarian “governments” disarm the citizens prior so their control of the masses goes unchallenged. It has been that way throughout history and there is no reason it would be any different here. It is obvious that if the government attempts to disarm the public in any way whatsoever, that will be the tipping point that will start the second war for freedom from tyranny. It won’t matter if they use some excuse or not. They never fail to use a tragedy to further the evil they do. We have all seen this many times. That gun looks too scary, or that guy shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun because he disagrees with us, that gun holds too many bullets, or we are going to take these for your own good etc. Anybody out there ever heard them say these things already? They already have judges, politicians, enforcement, the news propaganda machine and some military going along with them. They may have to use the U.N. to go door to door. You can bet, sooner or later, somebody is going to fight back against the evil for freedom’s sake. I hope it’s me. Arm up, carry on.

    7. How many Chamber of Commerce Republicans would vote today to repeal MFN trade status for China? Trump imposes a few minor tariffs and the CoC and farmers squeal like stuck hogs.
      Lil Newt voted for extending MFN status to China back in 1998. Ten years after the Massacre, Newty Boy wanted to make sure American jobs could be sent to China. Hypocrite.

      1. Word. This NWO Illuminati Globalist, traitorous draft dodger is still out there spewing his obfuscations and worshipping at the altar of self-promotion. His dance card is all filled up.

    8. I remember watching that scene as it was being televised the same day (must have been recorded and not live, as China’s clock is approximately a dozen hours ahead of the States). I doubt the tanks would stop if someone tried staring them down today.

    9. IMOA the massacre at Tiananmen Square is a good time to face the truth about what true gun control looks like.

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