The anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China presents an opportune moment for Washington and its Western partners to ramp-up their Sinophobic smear campaign, while recycling the hoax they have propagated ever since the June Fourth incident occurred.
By Max Parry
Published on Dissident Voice, July 10, 2019
Last month marked three decades since the conclusion of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China. The anniversary is opportune for Washington and its Western partners to ramp-up their Sinophobic smear campaign while recycling the hoax they have propagated ever since the June Fourth incident occurred. Coverage of the commemoration has been wedded with the ongoing propaganda and wild accusation that the People’s Republic has currently detained up to 1 million Turkic Uyghur Muslims from the autonomous Xinjiang province in “concentration camps.” Simultaneously, opposition marches have erupted in the former British colony of Hong Kong with the financial backing of astro-turfing NGOs against a controversial extradition bill with the mainland. Like Tiananmen Square thirty years ago, the “pro-democracy” gatherings in the self-governing territory have become increasingly violent as rioters have stormed legislative buildings while hoisting the colonial-era dragon and lion flag as their emblem. The adoption of the Union Jack is reminiscent of the Syrian opposition’s appropriation of the French Mandate-era flag as its ensign — and we all know how “peaceful” those protests turned out to be.
In August of last year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) performed a routine analysis of China’s accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The only member to include the charge of Uyghur ‘internment camps’ was the committee’s American vice-chair, Gay McDougall, who did so based on allegations made by a shadowy opposition group located in Washington, D.C., known as the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). In other words, the UN did not officially make this determination but was only the interpretation of one American representative based on the conjecture of a dubious and biased “human rights” organization. Nevertheless, Western corporate media reported this unquestioningly second-hand under the assumption that the CERD committee consisted of UN internal sources when it is actually comprised of “independent experts” like McDougall.
Unsurprisingly, CHRD is directly tied to the highly politicized Human Rights Watch (HRW) NGO, which despite its name could not be more at odds with its declared vocation given its shared personnel and history of policies in lock-step with the world’s greatest violator of human rights, especially against Muslim countries, in the United States government. A Turkish scholar recently claimed that as many as 12.5 million Muslims have died in wars in the past 25 years, the vast majority a result of American foreign policy. Not to mention the fact that the U.S. still operates a very real concentration camp for Muslims in its naval base on the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to keep open indefinitely. For seventeen years, GITMO prisoners have been held and tortured without trial in total violation of international law. At the end of the day, “human rights” is a weapon to manipulate credulous liberals into supporting hawkish foreign policy whereby minority groups like China’s Tibetans and Uyghurs become pawns on the geopolitical chess board to undermine Washington’s adversaries.
An investigation showed that CHRD gets most of its sums from government grants which is safe to assume comes from the U.S.-government bankrolled National Endowment for Democracy (NED) NGO that is also subsidizing the Hong Kong protests. The paradoxically named CIA slush fund was created in 1983 as a front for the intelligence service to conceal its operations after the agency’s standing was disgraced following the revelations of illicit crimes in the prior decades sabotaging democracies around the world to install U.S. puppet regimes. Founded by Ronald Reagan, the NED has poured money into programs related to Xinjiang such as the World Uyghur Congress. In March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with four Uyghur representatives, though it turned out that at least one of those he convened with was a reporter for the U.S. government-owned Radio Free Asia which is the equivalent of the CIA’s Radio Free Europe in the continent. Just two months later, Pompeo would make a clean breast of his previous tenure as CIA director in a speech at Texas A&M University:
Having said that, not all tough places are the same. They each present a different set of challenges. I — it reminds me, you would know this as — it’s a bit of an aside. But in terms of how you think about problem sets, I — when I was a cadet, what’s the first — what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s — it was like — we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.
The fact that Pompeo admitted spinning the CIA’s yarn just a short time after meeting with the Uyghurs hasn’t prevented many on the left from lining up behind mainstream media in spreading the West’s disinformation without verification of the camp’s existence. The Intercept, a popular progressive news publication known for its coverage of leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, published an article calling for “global outrage” in response. The piece was written by Mehdi Hasan, a journalist who also works for Al-Jazeera, the state news network of Qatar’s ruling emirs whose government co-sponsors much of the Islamic terrorism plaguing Xinjiang that has been the basis for China’s policies regarding its Uyghur question. The Intercept is also owned by First Look Media, established by e-Bay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, whose investment firm financed many of the NGOs in Ukraine which organized the Euromaidan protests which ousted Kiev’s democratically-elected government in 2014. It is possible the billionaire has a similar conflict of interest in China.
A Reuters journalist who gained rare access to the facilities was interviewedand his on-the-ground observations were rather banal in comparison to such sensationalized vicarious reporting. The Chinese government acknowledges that what does exist in the energy-rich Northwestern province are re-education centers training and rehabilitating individuals with links to Turkic separatism, Uyghur nationalism and ISIS/Daesh to combat the spread of jihadism into the Uyghur community by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. For fifty years, the Gulf State kingdom has propagated an intolerant and ultra-conservative strain of Islam while evading any consequences as the source of international terrorism. This long believed association was confirmed in a leaked Hillary Clinton email from 2014 published by WikiLeaks:
While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
The embattled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman admitted that the previously obscure and fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Islam was deliberately exported at the West’s encouragement during the Cold War to undermine Soviet influence in Muslim countries. Today, Saudi-trained imams around the world are preaching the supremacy of Sharia law and waging jihad, from Kosovo to the Philippines. The Turkic-speaking Sunni minority concentrated in Xinjiang have not avoided this contamination as the region has been infested with terrorism since the 1990s with violence committed overwhelmingly by radicalized Uyghurs, from suicide bombings to knife attacks. It is notable that China’s dozens of other Muslim ethno-religious groups such as the Hui people are relatively well assimilated into Chinese society and have been immune to such ills, casting doubt on the West’s characterization of China as anti-Islam.
Meanwhile, the Uyghur extremism problem is so abundant that many were recruited in Syria to fight alongside al-Qaeda in the U.S.-Saudi proxy army rebranded as “moderate rebels” that unsuccessfully sought to overthrow the secular government of Bashar al-Assad. As only American exceptionalism permits, Washington is now simulating outrage at the PRC’s crackdown on the very religious fanaticism its allies have instigated, in the hopes that a separatist uprising could balkanize Xinjiang and halt China’s development of its new silk road, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), through the region connecting its trade routes with Africa and Europe. The feigned outcry of the West toward any unsubstantiated human rights abuses rings hollow given that which is taking place in GITMO and numerous U.S. black sites around the world.
The American “human rights expert” who made the assertion, Gay McDougall, is an advisory board member of the Open Society Foundation NGO founded by the controversial international financier George Soros. It is ironic that Soros has become so hated on the political right in the West when it was his “philanthropic” agencies that were instrumental in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and attempted the same in China. During the 1980s, his nonprofits partnered with other CIA soft-power intermediaries to destabilize the Eastern bloc and foment “pro-democracy” movements behind the Iron Curtain, from Poland’s Solidarity to Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. Later, Soros would invest heavily in Serbia’s Otpor! movement which ousted the last bastion of semi-socialism in Eurasia in the government of Slobodan Milosevic following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia after the end of the Cold War.
The success of Otpor! became the formulaic blueprint for the Western-engineered Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe against Moscow-backed states in the years to come, even after the reinstatement of the free market. Otpor! (“Resistance!”) became Georgia’s Kmara (“Enough!”) in the Rose Revolution, Kyrgystan’s KelKel (Pink or Tulip Revolution), Ukraine’s Pora (“It’s time”) in the Orange Revolution and many others which used the same protest tactics, slogans, and vexillography to transform peaceful protests into regime change operations. The anti-war movement should be deeply suspicious of Soros’ recent reported venture in an unlikely partnership with right-wing billionaire Charles Koch to establish a think tank whose aim is to “end America’s forever wars”, considering the Hungarian-born hedge fund tycoon has played an enormous role in US foreign policy for decades.
The methodology behind Color Revolutions takes inspiration from the writings of Gene Sharp, aka the “Machiavelli of non-violence”, a little known political scientist whose doctrine on strategies of non-violent resistance became useful to the Western establishment in training activists to incite unrest in order to topple governments in countries it seeks to dominate. Sharp’s work, From Dictatorship to Democracy, was used as a training manual in Otpor! and later became pivotal in the Arab Spring uprisings, another instance where what were presented as authentic, spontaneous protests quickly transformed into U.S.-friendly insurrections. Sharp’s theories became the modus operandi in depersonalizing political movements in order to manipulate them to suit the ends of regime change puppet masters in the Anglosphere.
What a coincidence that Gene Sharp himself was reportedly present in Tiananmen Square, aka the Gate of Heavenly Peace, back in 1989. Meanwhile, Soros was busy establishing the Fund for the Reform and Opening of China, aka the China Fund, which was shut down by the PRC after it suspected the foundation of connections with the CIA in the ensuing months that year. There is little doubt that the China Fund was attempting the same as what was done in Soros’s native Hungary, as well as Czechoslovakia and Poland. In hindsight, Tiananmen Square was one of the first attempts of what would become known as Color Revolutions, albeit a failed one. While Washington was successful in unseating communism in the Eastern Bloc it was unable to do in Beijing, though it was an enormous victory in the propaganda war of forever cementing the Chinese government as synonymous with authoritarianism in the impressionable minds of Westerners.
To this day the story according to the yellow press is that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened fire indiscriminately and massacred “thousands” of “non-violent” demonstrators when it finally cleared the city square after nearly 2 months of student-led protests. This was accepted as orthodoxy even on much of the left until this version of events was revealed to be contradicted by the U.S.’s own embassy cables published in 2011 by Wikileaks which divulged that the U.S. government had knowingly been allowing to the media to recount a fictitious narrative for decades. The confidential telegrams summarized the eyewitness account of Carlos Gallo, a Chilean diplomat, who was present during the June Fourth incident and told a very different story.
“8. GALLO EVENTUALLY ENDED UP AT THE RED CROSS STATION, AGAIN HOPING THAT TROOPS WOULD NOT FIRE ON THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL THERE. HE WATCHED THE MILITARY ENTER THE SQUARE AND DID NOT OBSERVE ANY MASS FIRING OF WEAPONS INTO THE CROWDS, ALTHOUGH SPORADIC GUNFIRE WAS HEARD. HE SAID THAT MOST OF THE TROOPS WHICH ENTERED THE SQUARE WERE ACTUALLY ARMED ONLY WITH ANTI-RIOT GEAR — TRUNCHEONS AND WOODEN CLUBS; THEY WERE BACKED UP BY ARMED SOLDIERS. AS THE MILITARY CONSOLIDATED ITS CONTROL OF THE SQUARE’S PERIMETER, STUDENTS AND CIVILIANS GATHERED AROUND THE MONUMENT TO THE PEOPLE’S HEROES. GALLO SAID WOUNDED, INCLUDING SOME SOLDIERS, CONTINUED TO BE BROUGHT TO THE RED CROSS STATION.”
“10. ALTHOUGH GUNFIRE COULD BE HEARD, GALLO SAID THAT APART FROM SOME BEATING OF STUDENTS, THERE WAS NO MASS FIRING INTO THE CROWD OF STUDENTS AT THE MONUMENT. WHEN POLOFF MENTIONED SOME REPORTEDLY EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF MASSACRES AT THE MONUMENT WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS, GALLO SAID THAT THERE WAS NO SUCH SLAUGHTER. ONCE AGREEMENT WAS REACHED FOR THE STUDENTS TO WITHDRAW, LINKING HANDS TO FORM A COLUMN, THE STUDENTS LEFT THE SQUARE THROUGH THE SOUTHEAST CORNER. ESSENTIALLY EVERYONE, INCLUDING GALLO, LEFT. THE FEW THAT ATTEMPTED TO REMAIN BEHIND WERE BEATEN AND DRIVEN TO JOIN THE END OF THE DEPARTING PROCESSION. ONCE OUTSIDE THE SQUARE, THE STUDENTS HEADED WEST ON QIANMEN DAJIE WHILE GALLO HEADED EAST TO HIS CAR. THEREFORE, HE COULD NOT COMMENT ON REPORTS THAT STUDENTS WERE AMBUSHED AND SLAUGHTERED IN THE ALLEY JUST WEST OF THE SQUARE NEAR THE BEIJING CONCERT HALL.”
The communique corroborates the account of the Chinese government that the injured and deceased included many unarmed soldiers and police. While there is no evidence or footage of the “thousands” of alleged corpses of CIA-trained student demonstrators, there is ample documentation of the armed thug participants setting fire to and even lynching PLA troops from buses during the confrontation. It was only on the final day that some police and soldiers were equipped with weapons as during the weeks prior the government had unsuccessfully attempted to put down the gatherings sending in defenseless PLA troops who were then attacked by the mobs. Not only were the riots brought under control mostly without lethal force, Gallo’s testimony upheld much of the PRC’s side of the story. The truth seems to be much closer to the Chinese government figures of around a few hundred fatalities, not thousands, during what were violent clashes and not any one-sided massacre.
It’s no wonder the anonymous ‘tank man’ in the internationally circulated iconic footage isn’t surrounded by the “thousands” of presumed corpses in the streets of what was then the largest public space in the world. Then again, the infamous stand-off between the unidentified protester and the tanks didn’t actually occur until June 5th, the following day after the protests concluded, a significant detail that has been curiously suppressed. That is to say, the image associated by most people around the world with the events — and one of the most universally recognizable of the 20th century — did not even occur during it. Not to mention that the unknown man was actually preventing the tanks from leaving, not entering, the city square. Nevertheless, the mysterious incident became the perfect extract for Western propaganda to put its spin on the crisis. If only the tanks had not exercised such restraint and run him over like the Israeli Defense Forces when they crushed the body of activist Rachel Corrie with a Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip — then China would be considered a ‘democracy.’
Recently, former President Jimmy Carter reportedly phoned Trump to discuss China about their mutual concern that it will soon exceed the U.S. as a superpower on the world stage. While Trump nixed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal which excluded China and could have kickstarted WWIII, he has launched a protectionist trade war with tariffs on Chinese imports in an ill-fated attempt at stimulating domestic manufacturing and industry. Carter noted that while the U.S. is spending hundreds of billions on defense instead of redeveloping its crumbling infrastructure, China is using its productive power to help its people and leading the way in constructing high-speed railroads. He contrasted the wasteful Pentagon budget with the PRC “which has not wasted a penny on war” which he attributed to his own credit in “normalizing diplomatic relations with China in 1979.”
While these days Carter seems to lean towards social democracy, his critique is ironic considering a path can be traced from today’s obscene military budget back to his administration’s decision in 1979 to arm the mujahideen in Afghanistan to undermine the Soviet Union and divide Eurasia at the direction of his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. So too can the Uyghurs falling prey to the spread of Wahhabism during the 1980s when China relaxed its policies and radical Islamist groups from neighboring Central Asia and Pakistan infiltrated the region. Meanwhile, the breakup of the Soviet Union resulting in the independence of former Soviet and Muslim-majority Central Asian republics like Kazakhstan bordering Xinjiang only increased the resurgence of Uyghur separatism. While the PRC may not be squandering on endless war, an enormous portion of the U.S. defense budget in recent years has been in the Pacific with the deployment of naval and missile systems in close proximity to China which was part of the Obama administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ foreign policy shift, a regional strategy akin to Imperial Japan’s encirclement of the mainland in the lead-up to WWII.
The strategy of the empire’s information warfare is to invert reality and depict China as a regional tyrant and surveillance state persecuting its religious minorities while seeking colonial dominance and polluting the environment. It’s hard to imagine a clearer case of imperial projection, where the U.S.’s own signature wrongdoings are being displaced onto its chief rival. Leaving aside the obvious in regards to American hegemony militarily, within its own borders the U.S. has more people incarcerated despite the fact that China has a population three times as large. Even more startling, China has less people living in poverty despite its exponentially bigger populace. Then there is the hysteria over Apple’s tech rival Huawei and the completely baseless espionage allegations by the CIA against its 5G technology. The irony that Washington is trying to bully Germany for installing the cellular network when it was the U.S intelligence services that were caught red-handed tapping the personal phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is is clear that the U.S. is in pathological denial of its own sins while attributing them to China.
The demonization of China has been so successful that it has become commonplace on the Western ‘left’ which characterizes Beijing and Washington as an ‘inter-imperial rivalry’ of equal footing. Yet China’s development and aid in the continents like Africa is regarded by their leaders as one of mutual benefit, not plunder like its debt crisis manufactured by Western financial institutions. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped much of the left from agreeing with the likes of John Bolton in characterizing China’s assistance as ‘neocolonial.’ Liberalism is supplanting internationalism and anti-imperialism in many ‘leftist’ circles and it is especially disappointing to observe many who may be innately skeptical of corporate media narratives of a crisis in the Middle East or Latin America suddenly abandon their suspicions to rely on the very same sources as dependable in their coverage of China.
This failure shows the residual effects of post-WWII reinterpretations of Marxism in the West that is institutionalized in the academic canon, such as the Frankfurt School hybrid that prioritizes using Marxism only as a theoretical lens in their corresponding disciplines of examining culture and critiquing the arts. While there is no denying that ‘socialism’ is ascendant since the 2008 financial crisis which a recent Gallup poll shows that 40% of Americans support in some form, the version budding leftists are encountering is a variety that strongly demonizes all previous historical attempts at putting Marx’s theories into practice whereby the first requisite is to denounce all existing revolutions and achievements by socialism in the last century as totalitarian failures. For this reason, China is dismissed as a “state capitalist” or ‘Stalinist’ deformation. Michael Parenti warned of this in Blackshirts & Reds:
[R]eal socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this ‘pure socialism’ view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.
The hesitancy to defend China can also be ascribed to the widespread misconception that because of its market-oriented reforms, the People’s Republic is no longer socialist. The truth is much more complicated. The Tiananmen Square protests occurred at a time when China was undergoing economic liberalization not unlike glasnost and perestroik
Despite its market economy and the adoption of some outward capitalist features, its public and state-owned enterprises are of much greater prevalence. The state sector has a bigger share in everything from transit to energy while virtually all land and property is still owned by collectivities or the state. There is not a single private bank in China which includes the world’s largest that is state-controlled, as are virtually all major media outlets from television to newspapers. Fundamentally, its advances on the world stage are more attributable to a planned economy than the free market. That Beijing is increasingly in the crosshairs of imperialism is only a further sign of the inevitable decline of the American empire. As for the fact that China is not only producing more cars than the West but many of the world’s billionaires is indeed an internal contradiction — but only an inherent one to those who have been duped into believing that socialism is about making everyone equally poor. If you believe that, there is a proverbial bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
Max Parry is an independent journalist and geopolitical analyst. His work has appeared in publications such as The Greanville Post, OffGuardian, CounterPunch and more. Max may be reached at [email protected]