Posts tagged ‘nights’

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lots of Snowfall, Slowing Blogging Output

Eight years ago, I felt unhappy. I found it hard to make up my mind – should I stay focused on China, or should I return to Germany for good? It didn’t even look like a either-or decision. I only knew at hindsight that it was a – probably – final decision.

I sleepwalked into a loving relationship in 2006. It was just another try, during the first hours of us getting to know each other, in 2006. Gradually, it became evident that it was probably for life. It’s that kind of experience which is probably neither universal, nor exceptional. It happens frequently, to many people, but not to everyone. It isn’t unique, but I’m beginning to understand that it is a privilege all the same. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling long-standing gratitude.

This has kept me here in Germany. There’s family, there are old friends, but all that might not have kept me here. Now, there is this sense of belonging. It has grown for a while, and now it’s here.

I’m wondering – what does China mean to me, in this “new situation”? Does it still make sense to “blog about China”?

I’m probably not going to make a conscious decision about that either. It’s not such a big thing, to blog or not to blog, even though more than 1,900 posts and countless hours of reading and translating stuff about current affairs spell some kind of commitment which one wouldn’t easily throw away.

What might happen is that I’ll slow down. In recent years, I blogged more frequently than every second day. My goal now will probably be to stay up-to-date, not to lose track about current affairs surrounding China. As far as I feel that it makes sense, I’ll continue to read and to blog.

Thinking about it, I have probably moved past a somewhat belated midlife crisis. I’m beginning to learn where I belong. That means that some things are probably going to change, and I’m curious about the changes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wherever You Go: Broadcasting is a State Secret in North Korea

To express your feelings in a diary was dangerous during the cultural revolution, writes a blogger in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province. But if you didn’t write too close to the truth, you could still try the excuse that you were just keeping learning notes.

Hovever, to have a shortwave radio back then was like having a villa today: you became the talk of the town. You would listen to Central People’s Broadcasting Station at daytime, with no modest volume, and to “enemy stations” at night, with your earphones on.

All those stations came with characteristics of their own, writes the blogger, and one of them wasn’t actually an enemy station: the Voice of Korea, from Pyongyang. He happened on it, and found out about their characteristics, too:

The announcers’ tone was fervent and enthusiastic, sublime and heroic, pretty much like our radio announcers.

Chinese was in fact the Voice of Korea’s first language, according to Wikipedia Chinese. The programs started in March 1947. Japanese and English broadcasts followed in July 1950. Korean-language broadcasts followed only in 1955, and in 1986, three years after the latest foreign service (in German) had started, VoK launched a service for Koreans overseas.

The Wikipedia article states twelve VoK transmitters. It may have lost its count by now, though, depending on who in North Korea operates one (or several) of the more recent transmitters bought by North Korea, from a Chinese manufacturer, BBEF Science & Technology Co., Ltd.. The company’s technicians had to train the Korean customer’s technicians in China, as its intended location of use in North Korea was a state secret, North Korea Tech quotes from BBEF’s English webpages.

Dude, where’s our state secret?
(Wikimedia, click picture for source)

They don’t seem to mention the secretive aspect in English, but their Chinese pages do. The training courses for eight technicians from North Korea ran from June 1 to 27, 2011, and their task was (or is being) complicated at the undisclosed location itself, which is said to be “in a tunnel”.*)

With revolutionary enthusiasm, everything should be possible, of course, but the antennas are still more likely to be on the surface. And there lies a likely problem with the state secret, writes North Korea Tech, apparently somewhat maliciously:

While the location of the transmitters might be a secret inside North Korea, that’s not quite the same outside of the country. Thanks to the satellite images on Google Maps and other mapping services, the location of most transmitters has already been found.

How many of VoK’s twelve-odd (?) transmitters were bought from China in general, or from BBEF in particular, doesn’t seem to be known. But given the close ties between the two countries, one may guess that most of them are made in China. At least one, however, came from Switzerland, according to Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (Radio Eins).

According to BBEF’s own company introduction, they are pioneers in China’s television industry, having established the country’s television development’s three milestones – the first black-and-white transmitter in 1958, China’s first intermediate-frequency color tv transmitter in 1975, and its first high-definition television transmitter in 1998. That, plus the country’s first 1,000-kilowatt high-power mediumwave transmitter, its first high-power shortwave transmitter, its first FM transmitter, and its first high-power multi-pattern rotating antenna (probably for shortwave). Also according to their introduction, their products have gone to 16 countries or areas, one of them as far as to an observatory in Antarctica.

One of the VoK frequencies has been a DRM signal for some time. The digital technology seems to hail from the Communication University of China’s Radio and Television Engineering Research Center (ECDAV), and this video recording posted by a Japanese listener seems to suggest that there is still room for technical perfection.

That said, the tone adopted by the announcers is as sublime and heroic as ever.



*) There’s probably only one transmitter to be insalled underground, but I can’t tell for sure, from the BBEF release. The release on the training completion ceremony in full:

On June 24, 2011, the “North Korean Shortwave Project Technical Training completion ceremony” was held in our company’s meeting room no. 5. In attendance were company chairman of the board Zhao Baoshan, party secretary Zu Wei, vice director Ye Jin, those members of the foreign projects department and the broadcasting department who took part in this training project, and the North Korean technicians who attended the training courses. Foreign-projects department head Wang Jianwei presided over the ceremony.


Company chairman Zhao Baoshan was the first to express congratulations to the successful conclusion of this time’s shortwave project training, and recognition to the North Korean technicians’ performance during the past month of training. On the technical level, vice director Ye Jin gave a brief summary of the efforts made by the Chinese and North Korean sides in the training, and praised the success the North Korean technicians had achieved in the course of the training. The North Korean side’s person in charge of technology, and delegation leader, Li Zhengshi, expressed recognition and thanks to BBEF’s training work, and expressed the hope that there would be more fields of cooperation with BBEF. Lastly, company party secretary Zu Wei and vice director Ye Jin presented the North Korean technicians with their completion certificates.

公司董事长赵宝山首先代表公司对本次短波项目的培训圆满结束表示祝贺,并对朝鲜技术人员在近一个月培训中的表现 给予肯定。公司副总裁叶进在技术层面上对这段时间中朝双方培训所做的努力和配合进行简短的总结,对朝鲜技术人员在培训过程中取得技术上的成就给予赞扬。朝 方技术负责人、本次技术培训团的团长李正式对北广科技的培训工作表示肯定和感谢,并提出希望将来在更多的领域与北广科技进行合作。最后,由公司党委书记祖 巍和副总裁叶进向朝方技术人员颁发结业证书。

From June 1 to 27, 2011, eight technicians from North Korean KPTTC carried out nearly one month of training at BBEF. The training’s main contents concerned the signed shortwave transmitter project’s technology, and technical exchanges concerning the previous medium-wave project. For political reasons in North Korea, the location where the shortwave transmitter(s) is (are) to be installed is a state secret. The 100-kilowatt-transmitter’s complete installation and adjustment need to be solved by the North Korean technicians themselves. Our company’s technicians cannot go to North Korea for inspections. In addition, the installation will be carried out in a tunnel (in tunnels), and many technical difficulties will need to be overcome. This time’s training was therefore of particular significance, and constituted a major task. The broadcasting department’s technicians in charge therefore carried out exchanges with the North Korean side with great patience, in accordance with the North Korean technicians requirements and questions, once in a while in meeting rooms, once in a while at the production line. With the technical information constantly being changed and improved, the feelings of the Chinese and North Korean technicians also continuously deepened. At the completion ceremony, North Korean delegation leader Lee also presented our company with a Kim Il-sung quotation collection and wrote a dedication, saying: we wish BBEF evermore brilliant development in technological and market development.

2011年6月1日至27日,来自朝鲜KPTTC的8名技术人员在北广科技进行了为期近一个月的培训。培训的主要内容是本期签订的短波发射机项目的相关技 术内容,并对上一期中波项目的技术问题进行技术交流。因为朝鲜方面政治原因,本次短波发射机的安装台站地点是国家机密,100kW短波发射机的整机安装和 调试都得由朝鲜方面技术人员自己解决,我公司的技术人员无法亲自去朝鲜勘察。同时发射机的安装又是在坑道里进行,要克服的技术难题非常多。因此,本次培训 的意义非凡,任务重大。广播部的相关技术人员按照朝鲜技术人员的要求和问题,有时在会议室,有时在生产线,不厌其烦地与朝方进行交流。技术资料在不断的更 改、完善,中朝技术人员的情感也在不断的加深。在结业典礼上,朝鲜技术代表团的李团长送上了金日成的语录并为公司题词:祝愿北广科技在技术上和市场上有更 辉煌的发展。

This time’s North Korean Shortwave Project Technical Training has been a complete success, and within this month, friendship and trust between the Chinese and North Korean technicians have deepened. We believe that cooperation between our company and North Korea can rise to a new level.




» More Mirrors to the Barbershop, VoK, March 4, 2012
» VoK opens Website, April 18, 2011


Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Asserting Authority

« An explanation of this 1989 series

« Previous post in this series


Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.

Friday, June 21, 1989

The authorities feel humiliated by the petitioning students at Xinhua Gate. “People’s Daily” publishes an editorial titled “How we Shall mourn Comrade Hu Yaobang”, and a Xinhua newsagency journalist’s report is titled “Several Hundred Crowd around Xinhua Gate and Create Trouble”. Many university students in Beijing believe that these comments and reports aren’t seeking the truth in the facts and that they are hard to accept.

People’s Daily’s editorial says that a small number of people act the mourners, but do in fact level illegal activities against the party and the government, and even brazenly pounded Xinhua Gate. There was no way to allow this. Whoever used the mourning of Comrade Hu Yaobang to level vandalism at the party and the government would become a historic criminal. Those of them who insisted on having their own ways would reap what they had sowed.

In the morning, University of Political Science and Law students call for a student strike. A responsible at the university informs about that three students who had taken part in mourning activities on Tian An Men Square on the evening of April 19. At about 11.30 p.m. they were about to return to the campus and encountered a large number of military police on the southern side of the Great Hall of the People. Wang Zhiyong (王志勇, see previous post) had been beaten unconscious with leather belts, and the Beijing Hospital No. 3 (北医三院) had confirmed lacerations on his head, light cerebral concussions, and eye injuries.

The strike notice demands
(1) two days of strike, on April 21 and 22 to protest the illegal police behavior;
(2) demands that the government severely punish the perpetrators1)
(3) the police must, in its report, publicly apologize for this kind of behavior, and report in accordance with the facts
(4) if item (2) and (3) are not replied to by April 23 at 5 p.m., further action will gradually be taken.

Strikes at Beijing University begin before noon, some students at the entrances to the rooms dissuade classmates from attending lessons, and a strike notice is written on some blackboards. Beijing University Student Steering Committee publishes a strike notice.

At about twelve, students at the University of Political Science and Law campus burn Xinhua newsagency’s “Safeguarding Social Stability is the Current Big Picture” and “People’s Daily’s” editorial. Small bottles are smashed2).

In the afternoon, fifty students from Tianjin arrived at Beijing University as scheduled [see previous post], as a petition delegation.

At Beijing University, Wu’erkaixi‘s  (ئۆركەش دۆلەت / 吾尔开希•多莱特) notice emerges:
(1) scrap the (official) Students’ Union’s and Postgraduates’ Union’s responsibilities;
(2) participate in the Beijing Universities’ Provisional Students’ Association;
(3) from April 22, the entire university announce a student strike and a stop to all examinations;
(4) at ten p.m., all universities take a pledge at Beijing University, and all students, without fail, must participate, prepare bread and drinks to express appreciation for fellow students from (other) universities.

In the afternoon, Chen Ku-ying (陈鼓应 / 陳鼓應), a guest professor for philosophy from Taiwan, and 143 more professors and scholars sign and publish an open letter (“Teachers’ Urgent Call”) to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, calling for maintaining the principle of consultations and dialogue, and the restoration and development of the Three Forms of Broad-Mindedness (三宽: 宽松、宽宏、宽厚). Violence against students should not be allowed.

At about 6 p.m., an open letter to the party’s central committee, the state council, and the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee emerges at Beijing University. It is signed by Bao Zunxin (包遵信), Bei Dao (北岛), Su Xiaokang (苏晓康) and 47 more authors and states that the students’ mourning activities’ demands are positive and constructive, and that healing the popular feelings (收拾民心) and weathering the crisis together would be a fundamentally wise policy.

Beijing Municipal government publishes a notice saying that because of the mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang at the Great Hall of the People, Tian An Men Square needed to be evacuated by dawn, and that cars and pedestrians will not be allowed to enter the square. In fact, this is a measure to prevent the students from gathering there and to participate in the mourning ceremony. All universities in Beijing decide to let the students assemble on the square during the preceding evening, i. e. today evening.

After 8 p.m., some 40,000 students are on their way, from one university after another. It is the first united demonstration by all universities in Beijing.

The masses, in their tens of thousands, applaud the demonstrators from the roadsides. The students, their spirits high, call slogans like “Long live the people!”, “long live understanding!”, and “What are we doing? We are speaking the truth!” Hot water and cups provided by the public, along the roads.

The demonstration is tightly organized. Also along the roads, students screen the demonstration on the road from outsiders slipping in. At 22.40, the first students arrive on Tian An Men Square, and by 1.30 a.m., everyone is there. Around midnight, the numbers are somewhere between 200,000 and – according to some reports – 400,000 students and onlookers. Every university has dispatched overseers.

In the evening, a student, Zhen Songyu (甄颂育), rushes in and asks us (Wu Renhua, Liu Su and Chen Xiaoping) to help getting order into messy demonstration preparations. I’m taking to the demonstrators’ front rows, Chen Xiaoping walks behind the formation, and Liu Su keeps us connected. Late at night, Wang Juntao (王军涛), to be classified by the authorities as a vicious manipulator (literally: “black hand”, 黑手) after the end of the movement, and Zhang Lun (张伦), who has just returned from Yan’an, appear among our  University of Political Science and Law demonstrators, seeking for me. I’m meeting Zhang Lun, from Beijing University, for the first time.

In the afternoon, after reading reports from the education commission, Beijing municipal government, the public-security ministry, Xinhua, and other departments, party secretary general Zhao Ziyang makes a phonecall to politbureau member and the national education commission’s director Li Tieying (李铁映) with a proposal to keep communication with all universities and to make sure that effective measures are taken to maintain guidance and to prevent conflicts (contradictions, 矛盾) from intensifying. In the afternoon, Zhao also has discussions with permanent politbureau member Hu Qili and the secretariat of the Communist Party Central Committee secretary and politbureau member Rui Xingwen. Zhao says that the news and public opinion should emphasize some correct things, and while affirming that the students are patriotic, the importance of social stability also needs to be pointed out, and intensified contradictions be prevented.

Permanent politbureau member and chief state councillor Li Peng (李鹏), after reading the public-security ministry’s “Concerning some illegal organizations emerging at Universities” report, adds a comment to the original document: “Comrade Tieying [Li Tieying, see previous paragraph], this issue must be closely watched, and immediately be communicated to the universities in question, to curb this in accordance with the law.”

Li Peng notes in his “June-4 diary”3) that

This evening at seven, Zhao Ziyang held a standing committee meeting and discussed the wording of the eulogy for Comrade Hu Yaobang. It gives high appraisal to the life of Comrade Hu Yaobang, but according to Comrade Xiaoping’s [i. e. Deng Xiaoping] advice, it doesn’t give Comrade Yaobang the title of a great Marxist. At eight p.m., 50,000 students, in the name of taking part in the mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang, have entered Tian An Men Square – in advance – to make sure that the measures that had been taken to keep them out next day can not be put into practice. In the evening, I kept watching the developments from [my] Zhongnanhai office. Comrade Qiao Shi, in direct command of the scene, [says that] the measures to keep the square clear cannot be carried out.

Continued here »



1) the dominant translation would be murderersxiongshou (凶手), the term used in the strike notice quote, is basically a stronger word than just perpetrators.
2) see footnote 2 there. The smashing of little bottles, however, was most probably targeted at Deng Xiaoping.
3) I heard about the “diary” in 2010, but I don’t know if that document can be considered authentic.



» April 21, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 21, 2012
» Detective Li’s Diary, June 30, 2010


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – a Trip to North Korea

« An explanation of this 1989 series

« Previous post in this series


Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.

Wednesday, April 19, 1989

Some two thousand students stay in front of Xinhua Gate overnight, even after three in the morning. But it is quite a reduction from the peak of the evening before, when there were more than twenty-thousand students and onlookers. At 4.20 a.m., a loudspeaker announcement warns of bad elements trying to create trouble, and wanting to use people for their own ends. This was no longer a normal mourning activity, says the message. A great number of police cars arrive, plus two buses, which take students who still stayed on at Xinhua Gate back to their campuses without incidents. In the afternoon, the slogans, besides praise for late Hu Yaobang, begin to include calls for unfolding the May-4 tradition1).

At 9 p.m., several ten-thousand people have gathered on Tian An Men Square again. Public security authorities inform the public by loudspeaker messages that wreathes may be taken to the Monument of the People’s Heroes, but not to Zhongnanhai. Around 10 p.m., police stops students from flying seven hydrogen balloons which carry the inscription “Hu Yaobang isn’t Dead”. Xinhua Gate is out of reach for demonstrations, as it has been sealed off by police.

In the evening, the Democratic Salon holds a session at Beijing University’s San Jiao Di [explanation here, underneath the seven demands]. It is initially moderated by the university’s history department student Wang Dan, and then by Wu Yunxue (武运学), as Wang Dan’s voice is getting hoarse. Ding Xiaoping (丁小平), Xiong Yan (熊焱), Feng Congde (封从德), Yang Tao (杨涛) and others give speeches. The students present at the session decide to depose the [official] Students’ Union and to establish a Steering Commission for an Autonomous Beijing University Students’ Union.

The CCP Central Committee announces that a mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang will be held in the Great Hall of the People on April 22, at ten a.m.. The ceremony will be broadcast live by China National Radio and CCTV.

Fang Lizhi (方励之), researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories (北京天文台) at the time, is interviewed by a Hong Kong reporter on the phone. The students have the right to make demands, and to express them peacefully on demonstrations, he says. He supports the students, and so do intellectuals and public opinion in general. He has no direct links with the students; the students strife for democracy and freedom is spontaneous, with views of their own. He isn’t directly participating in their actions.

Thursday, April 20, 1989

At midnight, at the Democratic Salon at Beijing University, Wang Dan announces the foundation of the “Beijing University United Students’ Union Steering Committee”, which is to replace the officially-controlled Beijing University Students’ Union. The steering committee’s seven members are Ding Xiaoping, Yang Tao, Wang Dan, Yang Dantao (杨丹涛), Xiong Yan, Feng Congde, and Chang Jin (常劲, sometimes also spelled Chang Jing). The committee recommends that students from every university organize themselves and elect delegates to ensure a unified leadership for the movement.

At peak times, there are now up to fifty- or sixty-thousand people on Tian An Men Square.

Zhongnanhai is sealed off [apparently to prevent further demonstrators to get to Xinhua Gate], and loudspeaker messages at 3.45 in the morning warn the about 300 students who are still in front of Xinhua Gate that if the “small minority of people” still hold out there, the consequences will solely be their own responsibility. At about 4 a.m., military police disperses the several hundred students and forces them on buses. Some don’t want to get on the buses and for the first time, there is fighting.

Hong Kong’s Express (Kuai Bao) reports that student delegates from Beijing University, the People’Äs University and the University of Political Science and Law who had regular talks with the authorities, but there hasn’t been news from them since they had entered Zhongnanhai at two a.m.. Students are losing patience.

At 3 p.m., protests emerge at Beijing University, against the beating of a University of Political Science and Law student, Wang Zhiyong, at Xinhua Gate early that day. The student’s bloody clothes are put on display at Wang’s university.

Deng Xiaoping, in his capacity as the CCP’s central military commission, decides to call troops into Beijing to reinforce the police and military police in Beijing. Troops dispatched are from the 3rd Capital Garrison Division (Police), and from the 38th Army (belonging to the Beijing Military Region).

In the morning, vice chief state councillor Tian Jiyun (田纪云) meets party secretary general Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) and suggests that Zhao should change his plan to leave for a visit to North Korea on April 23. Tian is the only cadre Zhao brought with him to Beijing2), from Sichuan. Zhao says that he has thought about that, too, but he believes that to change his plans would suggest to the world outside that the political situation was unstable. He therefore sticks with his travel plan.

Students come in from Tianjin, by train, fifty on them this Thursday evening. More than one-hundred have bought train tickets and will arrive on Friday to take part in a demonstration in Beijing.

Demonstrations are reported from Anhui Province, and in Nanjing, at 10.30 p.m., more than three-thousand students leave the Nanjing University campus for demonstrations at the Jiangsu Province government buildings.

In Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, some 2,300 people charge ahead for the entrance of the provincial government building. More than 200 are arrested by military police. An official statement says that very few organized students had been among the troublemakers, and that the majority had been “young people waiting for work”3), workers, people without fixed duties, and mostly young.

Continued here »



1) See last paragraph – a quote from the Hong Kong Standard – there. The May-Fourth movement of 1919 is canonized in Chinese history recording, as a starting point for national renewal and for patriotism, and to invoke this tradtion usually helps to add legitimacy to ones own actions.

2) 待业青年 (young people waiting for employment) remained a euphemism for youth unemployment in the 1990s. Basically, the Shaanxi provincial government communique distinguished between “good-for-nothings” and students – in the early days or weeks of the 1989 movement, there seemed to be a wide-spread reluctance among officials to condemn the students’ agenda, not only among cadres close to Zhao Ziyang. This initial sacrosanctity was possibly owing to the glorification of the May-19th movement in China’s official history records, and also to a switch in the CCP’s coalition-building, away from the peasant and working class towards the intellectuals, as (particularly explicitly) described by Chinese academic Kang Xiaoguangcited there.

3) It probably goes without saying that Zhao Ziyang, general secretary of the CCP at the time, was rather sympathetic towards the students’ movement, and certainly not willing to unleash the army on them. Wu Renhua, who wrote the Tian An Men 1989 records I’m quoting from in these posts, sees a particular degree of trust between Zhao and Tian, because they worked together in Sichuan Province, before Zhao was promoted to Beijing.



» April 20, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 20, 2012
» April 19, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 19, 2012
» Zhao Ziyang’s Memoirs, New York Times, May 14, 2012


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Seven Demands

« Explanation of this June-4 series approach

« Previous post in this series

Note: I won’t be able to translate all of Wu Renhua‘s document. However, I’ll try to reflect the gist and the spirit of Wu’s account, and to keep the contents I’m reflecting here consistent.

Wikipedia provides a framework of the Tian An Men events from April to June 1989, and Diane Gatterdam is blogging on a today-in-history basis, on C. A. Yeung‘s Under the Jacaranda blog.


Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.

Tuesday, April 18, 1989

On midnight, more than one-thousand students leave the Beijing University campus for a demonstration, and as they reach Diaoyutai Guest House, their number has risen to three-thousand. Foreign journalists and staff from foreign embassies walk along and watch the event. At 1.30, they reach the People’s University (Renmin University) and stop for a while, as nearly one-thousand People’s University students join them. Along the walk, Tsinghua University and other students also join. By now, nearly ten-thousand people have gathered, most of them students who leave again during the demonstrations.

Beijing University demonstrators carry white silk banners of ten meters length and four meters height, with characters like “Soul of China”, “Remembering Comrade Hu Yaobang forever”, signed by “teachers and students from Beijing University and friends”. Students call, on top of their voices, “long live democracy”, “long live liberty”, “down with bureaucracy” and similar slogans, and sing the “Internationale”. The demonstrators reach Tian An Men Square at about 4.30 in the morning and gather at the Monument to the People’s Heroes. A student climbs the monument and shouts: “This action is completely spontaneous and not linked to the [official, party-controlled] Student’s Union (学生会). We have elected our own students’ representatives, who are preparing to talk with the government.”

As the day dawns, several hundreds of Beijing University students who are sitting in front of the Great Hall of the People demand to speak with leaders above the level of the NPC Standing Committee level, and present seven demands:

  1. to re-assess Hu Yaobang’s merits and demerits and to affirm their democratic, liberal, tolerant and harmonious points of view
  2. thoroughly reject the campaigns against spiritual pollution and against caipitalist liberalism, and correct injustices done to intellectuals
  3. make the salaries and all income of the country’s leaders public, act against corrupt officials
  4. permit private newspapers, remove censorship, implement freedom of speech
  5. increase spending on education, improve the treatment of intellectuals
  6. remove the Beijing municipal government’s ten rules concerning demonstrations
  7. require the government leaders to report mistakes to the National People’s Congress in a public review and put certain officials’ posts up for re-election

[For comparison, the seven demands as quoted on Wikipedia]

These seven demands had gone through discussion at Beijing University’s law faculty postgraduates’ assembly, chaired by Li Jinjin (李进进).

At 7.30, Wang Dan (王丹) of Beijing University History Faculty, notices that the number of silent protesters is diminuishing, and gives Fang Lizhi’s (方励之) wife Li Shuxian (李淑娴) a phonecall. She puts up a poster at Beijing University’s San Jiao Di [三角地, a place where most student demonstrations passed through during the 1970s and the 1980s. It is also the site of a memorial of Beijing University’s 100th anniversary]. After the 9-4 incident, it is the only case the CCP establishes as a manipulative act between Fang Lizhi’s wife and the students’ movement.

At eight in the morning, General Office of the Communist Party of China (中共中央办公厅) and General Office of the State Council’s Bureau for Letters and Calls chief Zheng Youmei (郑幼枚) and others invites Guo Haifeng, Wang Dan and other students representatives to enter the Great Hall of the People and receive their petition there. Guo, Wang etc. demand that the NPC Standing Committee members emerge to have a dialog, while Zheng Youmei replies that this would require certain etiquettes. The students’ representatives state that this dialog had not been satisfactory.

At 5.30, Standing Committee member Liu Yandong and NPC delegates Tao Xiping and Song Shixiong meet the silent protesters’ delegates Guo Haifeng and others, and Guo et al submit a Petition to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee – a petition which mainly contains the seven demands.

At 6.55 p.m., more than three-thousand students from People’s University, Beijing University, Beijing Institute of Technology (北京理工大学) leave their campuses and set out for Tian An Men Square. They arrive there at 8 p.m. – first those who came by bicycle, then those who walked to the square. At 9 p.m., some ten- to twenty-thousand people have gathered on the square, and apart from the silent demonstrators in front of the Great Hall of the People, they gather in front of the Monument to People’s Heroes.

At 10.50 p.m., more than twenty [correction, 2May 15, 2013] two-thousand students and onlookers move to Xinhua Gate, the State Council’s place at Zhongnanhai, and demand a dialog with chief state councillor Li Peng. Li is paying a visit to Hu Yaobang’s family that evening, expressing his appreciation for Hu Yaobang. His family people express their wish for a simple funeral, and that the center will issue a conclusion of his work.

In the afternoon, Nanjing University and Hehai University students have applied for a demonstration permit to the Jiangsu Province Public Security Bureau, stating that more than ten-thousand students from several universities want to gather at the Clock-Tower Square at 1 p.m. on April 9. Reports about activities from Shaanxi Province are also coming in – in Xi’an, the mourning activities are said to spread from the students to society at large.

As Tuesday comes to an end, only Associated Press, among the foreign news providers, has covered activities in Shanghai, according to reference material provided to the CCP leadership. All other reports have remained focused on Beijing. According to Associated Press, the demonstrations have become more political on Tuesday, demanding answers from the government. Li Jinjin [see further above, re seven demands] is quoted as saying that the bureaucracy had got a taste of the people’s power. The students had wanted a dialog with NPC Standing Committee members in charge, and weren’t demanding an immediate response, but they [Standing Committee members] hadn’t dared to show up (今天,学生们的游行逐渐变得越来越带政治性,要求政府对他们提出的七条要求做出答复。学生代表李进进说:官僚们会尝到人民的力量。他说,学生们想同全国人大常委会负责人谈谈要求,而且不会要求立即作出答复,可他们不敢出来).

Continued here »



» April 27, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 27, 2012
» A Frenzy for Freedom, J. Bennett, May 1990/April 2012
» All Highly Quotable, May 20, 2010


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Towards the Sun

Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.

« previous post in this series, and an explanation of my approach to regiving Wu Renhua’s document

Monday, April 17, 1989

From the afternoon on, larger-scale activities than before to mourn Hu Yaobang spread from the university campuses to Tian An Men Square. In big and medium-sized cities nationwide, mourning activities are also becoming larger. At about 1 p.m., more than 600 teachers and students from China University of Political Science and Law move towards Tian An Men Square, along the Second Ring Road, led by young teachers like Chen Xiaoping, Xiong Jining, and Wu Renhua. It is the first demonstration by the 1989 popular movement. More details [in Chinese] here.  Some of the participating China University of Political Science and Law students later become a backbone of the students’ movement, like Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), Xiang Xiaoji 项小吉, head of the Beijing Universities’ Students’ Dialog Delegation), Zhou Yongjun (周勇军, Beijing Students Autonomous Federation chairman), the Students Autonomous Federation’s first secretary Wang Zhixin (王志新, listed by the Ministry of Public Security as one of the 21 student leaders), Wang Zhiqing (王志清, also listed as one of the 21 student leaders by the public security ministry, and unaccounted for ever since the end of the June-4 movement).

At 5 p.m., there are nine wreathes in front of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, signed by a number of students from Beihang University (aka Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics), teachers and students from Beijing University, teachers and students from Beijing Normal University, by all post-graduates from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and by a cadre from the China University of Political Science and Law.

By 7 p.m., some two- to three-thousand people have assembled at the Tian An Men Square monument, and mostly students read out memorial speeches. After midnight, there are still between two- and three-hundred students who don’t want to leave the place.

In Shanghai, more than one-thousand (mostly) Fudan University students have moved to the government buildings and demanded talks with city leaders. They disperse by about 4 a.m. next morning. The authorities, led by Shanghai party secretary Jiang Zemin, issue a notice, stipulating that memorial activities for Hu Yaobang have to be conducted within the respective work units (danwei), to safeguard normal work and studies, stability and unity. The notice also calls for vigilance, concerning bad elements who could seize the opportunity to instigate disturbances. On Monday evening, more than one-thousand students from Tianjin’s Nankai University also leave their campus for a demonstration, singing the Internationale, the national anthem, plus the military anthem of the PLA (我们的队伍向太阳)1), and calling slogans like “Down with dictatorship”, “long live democracy”, and “long live liberty”. Demonstrations are also reported from Hunan Province.

At People’s University (aka Renmin University) in Beijing, the “Some Suggestions from Beijing University, Tsinghua University, People’s University, and Normal University” document emerges, with the following main content:

  • making Tian An Men Square the focus of elegiac couplet and wreaths
  • the establishment of a new, democratic order
  • review of major mistakes that emerged during the ten years of reform, and
  • the removal of those responsible for the mistakes from office.

The Hong Kong Standard, in a news report headlined “Hu Yaobang’s death believed to revive reformist faction”2), writes that

The movement for democracy and human rights is growing by the day, and following the May-Fourth 70th anniversary, its momentum will only expand further […] The students from Beijing’s universities, in their activities to mourn Hu Yaobang, may spontaneously organize activities to make demands for broadening democracy.

Continued here »


1) PLA performing the song on August 1, 2007 (video), lyrics in English (“Facing towards the Sun”, Wikipedia).
2) The Standard (HK) most probably published this report in English – the above is my English translation from the way Wu Renhua quoted the report in Chinese.



» “Our Opportunity had Arrived”, Under the Jaracanda, April 17, 2012
» Hu is Popular, April 17, 2010


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Weeks before June 4, 1989

Wu Renhua (吴仁华) is a former China University of Political Science and Law professor with classical literature as a major. According to a VoA article of May 30, 2010, he belonged to one of the last groups who left Tian An Men Square, in 1989. He first went to Hong Kong during the 6-4 aftermath, and then into American exile. He is the author of two books on the Tian An Men crackdown. From April 15 to June 9, 2011, he kept kind of a “today-in-history” diary  on his Twitter microblog, recording once again the run-up to the massacre on June 4. Later, he turned the single posts into one document.

June 4 isn’t too much of a topic in Western media these days. Obviously, every year when the anniversary approaches, arrives, and passes, there will be some coverage on commemorative sessions planned in mainland China (usually, the state security and censorship make sure that they either don’t happen, or don’t become public), and on events like the annual candellight vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park. But the stories told among Chinese people in their own language, among dissidents, relatives of those killed or injured on June 4, those who take a general interest in the past, and among Chinese people outside mainland China, go beyond Western news articles.

At the same time, the June-4 massacre as remembered on such occasions is only one narrative among many. If there is an official side of the story at all, i. e. one authored by the Chinese Communist Party, it is one mainly for foreigners’ consumption, published by state-controlled media like the English-language “Global Times” edition, or a narrative advocated by Chinese or non-Chinese people who view the massacre as an essential atrocity “to keep China stable”. As C. A. Yeung, a blogger and activist, put it in an interview in October last year:

[T]the so-called pro-democracy faction among overseas Chinese community worldwide has been more or less discredited. The world is now more eager to see a stable China than before the 2008 financial meltdown, to the extent that many world leaders are willing to overlook some rather obvious human rights violations that are happening in China.

Differences with other emerging schools don’t seem to have discouraged June-4 veterans like Wu. According to a Human Rights in China quote from him in 2009, June 4 wasn’t only a major event in Chinese history, but also caused the turn of events in the Soviet Union  and its satellite states, and in all of humankind’s 20th-century history.

If this holds water in a historian’s view isn’t for JR to decide. For sure, the June-4 1989 events preceded similar events in a number of Central and Eastern Europe, later that same year.

Diane Gatterdam has started a series of posts on Under the Jacaranda, about  the weeks leading up to June 4, in 1989. Her posts can be accessed in a row under this tag. I’ll keep reading there and posting here, in a complementary way, to quite an extent, but not necessarily exclusively, translating from Wu Renhua’s recollections.

The approach may not satisfy a historian’s standards, but I am no historian, and one has to start with something. The most important thing is that June 4 and those who hoped until that day, and lost during that night – their hopes, their health, or their lives – are remembered, until historians can freely get to work in China.

Continued here »



» Cultural Revolutions Great and Small, April 1, 2012


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, November 2011

The choice of frequencies reflects the season: all moving downward (in terms of kHz), and to the upper meter bands. That said, Radio New Zealand‘s frequency in the 19-meter-band – 15720 kHz, around 11:00 UTC – comes in with a slightly weaker signal than 9765 kHz (as recorded in the table underneath), but also with less interference from other stations, and with less atmospheric noise. Both transmissions are powered with 100 kilowatts, according to Shortwave Info, with the Pacific Islands as their target area.

Radio Damascus QSL 1980s

Radio Damascus shortwave QSL, 1980s

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South Africa; ALB – Albania; KRE – North Korea; NZL – New Zealand; RUS – Russia; SYR – Syria; TUR – Turkey.

Languages (“L.”):
C – Chinese; E – English; G – German.






Time GMT

9765 Radio New Zealand NZL E. Nov 11 17:10 5 4 4
6285 Voice of Korea KRE G. Nov 11 19:00 5 5 4
4880 SABC AFS E. Nov 15 18:30 3 3 3
9330 Radio Damascus SYR G. Nov 15 18:00 3 3 3
7205 TRT Ankara TUR G. Nov 15 18:30 4 4 4
6020 China R. Internat. ALB C. Nov 18 02:00 5 5 5
7250 V. o. Russia RUS E. Nov 18 03:00 4 4 4

A big advantage of the internet is that you can look up precisely the articles and topics which interest you most. But at times, I’ll keep listening to a radio broadcast for half an hour, or even an hour, and it may take me to topics which I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

I’d still rather do without the internet than without shortwave – another good thing about the latter is that it doesn’t consume nearly as much time. You can do all kinds of things along the way, until something catches your ear.



» Previous Logs, August 28, 2011


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