Eugene Cho

we have a voice: tiananmen square

What did you think when you first saw this image? When you first saw the video footage? I imbedded the video from a Chinese source – just seems more appropriate.

This happened 20 years ago today: Tiananmen Square.


Enjoyed NY Times’ article where they asked four people for their contributions and reflections – 20 years later. The four were students or workers in China during the time…

Two decades ago, China’s largest pro-democracy protests ended when military tanks rolled toward Tiananmen Square and troops opened fire on the crowds. For this anniversary, the Op-Ed editors asked four writers, who were students or working at the time, to reflect back on the event. [read full article]

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12 Responses

  1. I was just eight-years-old when this happened, but I have a very distinct memory of it, because my mother called me into the living room, pointed at the TV and said, “I want to show you what this man will do for freedom.”

    My mother raised me to be very aware of the plight of the oppressed around the world, and I really appreciate her for that.

    Also, my memory helped in a trivial pursuit game once when my teammates were convinced that the protests at Tiananmen Square happened in the 50s. I kept insisting that I remembered them!🙂

  2. Matthew says:

    I first saw this image during social studies in eighth grade; I just kept wondering what happened to that guy – whether he was arrested or killed. I don’t think anyone ever found out; maybe only a few people in the Chinese government know and I don’t think they’re telling anyone anytime soon.

    Today, though – particularly after reading Myers’ book – that image evokes for me the same kind of nonviolent struggle the early church was called to against the military mythology of the Roman Empire.

    As to the NY Times articles, I realise the NY Times has an agenda (often a very strong one, and rarely on the side of the outcast and economically insecure), but I found those op-ed pieces to be poignant. Having lived in Beijing for a year and having talked to people who lived through this time, I feel like I can’t even really begin to understand all the effects the protests had, and the mixed feelings that they aroused.

  3. Dan says:

    Matthew, to this day no one is certain what happened to the tank guy. It is possible that he just dissolved back into the crowd and disappeared.On the radio in Toronto this morning the morning show host raised the question of what happened to the tank commander – surely his orders were to not stop for anything, by not running down this lone protester he too may have paid a price.

  4. amy hewko says:

    i know people who were there that day and their stories are amazing and horrifying. such a horrible day!

  5. Jes says:

    The Chinese gov. never even released the actual death toll. And today they banned certain social networking sites so citizens couldn’t even talk about the anniversary. Will China ever progress in democracy??

  6. Matthew says:

    I think they’re closer today than they were in the 1980’s or before. The government has made significant retreats from the private sector (at least in the cities) and has allowed some limited democratic procedures on the lower tiers of (municipal/county/village) government – something which would have been unthinkable even under Deng Xiaoping. They do still keep an almost comically-strict stranglehold over web access on certain topics (like external sites mentioning Falungong or, in this case, the Tian’anmen protests).

    I’ve noticed that we tend to focus on what is most visible to us in the West. (Sorry, that came out as kind of a ‘no duh’.) More often than not, our media make a big deal out of some political issues involving China that most Chinese citizens themselves don’t, particularly – and I’ve noticed that the Chinese government takes up a siege mentality when faced with Western media criticisms (which sometimes do tend to have confirmation biases).

  7. david says:

    Tank Man is the man. When I was 11, I was sure he was going to get run over, but I was amazed that he climbed the tank to try to talk to the soldiers.

  8. me says:

    In a unique way, this image is on my top 3 most vivid memories thus far in terms of global news.

    I remember not being able to sleep.

  9. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s a rare 2nd angle on the same shot:

    It’s haunting to see this act in context. He’s not on top of a mountain in full view of the world – he’s just in the middle of the street walking home from the grocery store. That’s a hell of a time to decide to be a hero.

  10. Sarah says:

    Matthew: well put. I am currently on this website via a firewall bypass, but I do think that the country is moving toward more freedoms. However, I can’t help but wonder if openness would have been achieved by now had the protest not occurred – the government’s stranglehold on information is due in part to this event… It’s a Catch-22 for sure.

  11. joelbrady says:

    I too was haunted by the image of ‘tank man’. I was graduating from high school and had yet to fully see the world in this light. This moment started me on what i can only presume was a journey of place: place in this world, sure, but more so how this world fit in me.

    Anyway, as far as China’s ‘road’ to democracy appears, i would simply offer up the fact that many in China experience a very western notion of freedom (maybe not ours, but maybe more so than Italy), but at the heart of it, and some would say it’s no different here, the context/experience is economically driven. IN China we are quite simply watching the creation of an upper-class at the expense of billions to be used as footstools. Some would say this is the very root of capitalism. But then again, it’s definitely been the case with various brands of communism — maybe at the heart of it all is fascism — on one side we call it capitalism, the other communism, but in the middle it is always the marginalized poor who are caught.

    The imagery portrayed from that day is intensely emotive, indeed.

  12. Andy M says:

    I’ll go ahead and be the odd one out here, I don’t remember this event at all. I was 8 at the time. In Oklahoma where I live I would say there is a tendency to not concern ourselves with what is going on in the rest of the world, so when I first saw the famous picture I just thought, “how odd”. And it didn’t go any further than that, and I’m pretty sure that it is only within the last 8 years or so that I’ve seen the picture, and only more recently that I even have learned about what events took place.

    Aside from that, it is incredible what that man did in standing firm to oncoming tanks. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him in those moments.

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Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter Happy Birthday, Minhee! I'm so grateful for you. You radiate faith, hope, and love. don't complete me. That would be silly and simply humanly impossible but you keep pointing me and our family to Christ who informs and transforms our lives, marriage, family, and ministry. Thanks for being so faithful. I love you so much. (* And what a gift to be in Korea together.)

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