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China and the Tian'Anmen Bloodshed of June 1989

In: Social Issues

Submitted By loveWendee
Words 2423
Pages 10
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not to fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also duffer a defeat...” (Giles, 1910) Ancient Chinese military general, Sun Tzu made this well-known statement. In relation to foreign policy analysis, it is important to consider about the best of one’s strengths and weaknesses. After all, we’re humans and it is in our nature and interest to want the best for ourselves. Humans are greedy and self absorbed. National leaders want to try to maximise national welfare or develop eventual benefits in a system where there are a growing number of states that want to increase control on an international scale, as well as to uphold their own interests. So that when it comes to decision-making, lawmakers are able to take advantage of this knowledge in order to make more effective policy decisions. The aim of the text is to establish the idea that decision making made by national bureaucracies, leaders and individual members of the government body has the capability to influence and impact decision making upon other international decision making systems. Sometimes, decisions are made for the best although it does cause misunderstandings and inconveniences. It is important to understand and accept the cultural and historical reasons of another state as to why they decide to make particular decisions. These decisions can draw meanings and can be used to make sense of other foreign policy decisions.

In order to gain this understanding as to why certain nation behave in way or why certain foreign policy decisions are made, all levels and perspectives must be taking into consideration and analysed – individual, state and international. Each of these levels all has a relationship; they are not separate. For us to make sense of one entity, we must understand the other levels, and link them to one another. With this knowledge at hand, it is an advantage for states to have an enhanced understanding of how one’s political system is constructed and functions, as well as its strengths and its weaknesses. To understand the relationship between the events of the Tiananmen Square Massacre that took place in 1989, and the behaviours and certain foreign policy decisions made by Chinese politicians, we need to understand the essential characters that make up the culture, values and history. In this text, I will be presenting a number of decision making issues which lead to the event of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and decision making process after the event: (1) Characteristics, values and problems within the Chinese government, (2) Mass media, and linkages between global civil society and domestic interest groups, and (3) The impact of global treaties and sanctions. Each of these issues and factors will be analysed and considered under the three levels of analysis.

China has a long history of political reforms, dating back to the early 1950s (Martin, 2010, p. 16). In 1949, Mao Ze Dong was the supreme leader of the Republic of China. He feared the return of capitalism and materialistic incentives, and wanted to replace the ‘dictatorship of bourgeoisie’ with the ‘dictatorship of proletariat’ (Whittaker and Pryce-Jones, 2010). This led to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which took place from 1966 to 1967 (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 302). Mao encouraged the youth of China to protest against authority, the old hierarchy of the party, and bourgeoisie revolutionists. Students were used as a form of marketing tool to push forward the revolution (Whittaker and Pryce-Jones, 2010). Rallies were always held at the Tiananmen Square, encouraging and positively expressing the revolution. However, this effected tens of millions people – hundreds of thousands protesters and civilians were killed; hospitals, schools and factories were shut down (Whittaker and Pryce-Jones, 2010). Anyone who carried bourgeoisie values was accused for not being loyal to Mao and was attacked (Whittaker and Pryce-Jones, 2010). This revolution was impossible to keep up with and many wanted improvements on living standards, a stable lifestyle and restore party authority. Introduction of new rules and political regimes came into place to ensure that the Maoist movements would be put to an end (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 302). The end of the ten-year revolution was put to an end after the death of Mao in 1976 – his most cherished ideas were abandoned.

Deng Xiao Ping, Mao’s successor restored the Chinese political system. Instead of building a political system under the foundations of ideology, economic expansion was the new focus – “to get rich is glorious” (Whittaker and Pryce-Jones, 2010). Under the influence of Deng, it opened opportunities for China to reinsert itself into the capitalist world system (Martin, 2010, p. 2). Significant changes took place including, increase in foreign trade; foreign investment; and economic growth rates were better than ever. China became a strong competitor in the global market.

Not so long after in 1978, the ‘Democracy Wall’ movement came about (Zhao, 2008, p. 19 and Goldman, 2001, p. 1). It was a movement that illustrated China’s “struggle for democratic change” (Wang, 1998, p. 28). It is believed that the movement was closely linked with the Tiananmen Square Massacre that took place on June 4, 1989. Many civilians were killed by the Chinese military to control pro- democracy student protesters who had been protesting for a democratic China since April 14, 1989 (Smith, 2010 and BBC News, 2008). According to Chinese government official figures, 241 casualties were killed and 7000 were injured (Nathan and Link, 2001, p. 436). Many pro-democratic leading activists were located and accused for ‘disturbing social order’ (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 310), many were jailed, while others were sentenced to death. Some were sent to labour reform camps to prevent influence on other Chinese citizens (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 310). Looking back, the Chinese mostly viewed the protest in Tiananmen was not only a push forward for a Western-style democracy, but instead it was a battle to prevent the cost of corruption and chaos similar to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

The Chinese government is an aggressive dictator and the public does not get much of a say as to what happens in parliament when it comes to decision making process. In another words, the public is powerless. In the Chinese political system, independently organised or established political parties do not exist and there is only one party running throughout the whole state. One of the major reasons that motivated these reforms to take place is the goal and values of the Chinese government – avoid forming a political system that is similar to the United States. However, the way the Chinese political system has structured has limited the rights of many Chinese citizens. Thus the Chinese public has turned away from these ideas and rebelled against authorities – all they want it democracy within society.

Telecommunications and transport technology has given the opportunity for people to move around; allow trade to be more common, reliable and convenient; and the ability to connect with others and share different cultures (Hendry, 2008, p. 281). Easy access to technologies allows people to have nearly immediate contact with each other, regardless of the bordering countries that might lie between or within national borders (Baylis and Smith, 1997, p. 15). The advancement of technology – including fax machines, blogs, mobile phones, text messaging, the Internet – has rapidly developed a relationship between nations; economics and societies; and increased the levels of networking on inter-state relations. It has impacted the way in which how states and people within states communicate with each other and with this opportunity at hand, it allows people to discover and produce conditions for new and different hybridised cultures and identities. Although it has a positive impact on society, it has both challenged the Chinese political system to make changes in its political system; and created new tools for maintaining political control. New media and technology has raised many flaws and questions about the Party’s political power, while there are moments were the Chinese government has used new technology as tool of political control.

Western media by its very nature plays a liberalist role in the context of democratic movement in Asia (Sen, 2008, p. 1). Communication technology allowed people to share news and information including announcements and official documents at a low-cost. However, the Chinese government believes that this as a major threat for it has the potential to damage the reputation Chinese officials, and interfere with the Chinese authoritarian and military interests and regimes. They fear the Chinese public would turn against and challenge political authority. In China there are high media restrictions on what can and cannot be broadcasted. Simply, the government does not want the public to possess the freedom of expression to challenge and to criticise the government. The lack of freedom within the media has limited human rights, democracy and economic growth. Unfortunately, it has lead to corruption therefore, preventing individuals making any informed decisions because the government has full control in making all decisions for society. This restricts people living, exploring and creating their own lives.

The June 4 incident still remains at the top of the state’s list of forbidden topics (Zhao, 2008, p. 20). This is not only evident in the media, but also in academic works (Zhao, 2008, p. 20). Although China may have one of the fastest-growing economies, it also has made one of the most unfair and unjust political regimes in using aggressive state power to control the flow of public communication (Zhao, 2008, p. 20). This has challenged human rights values of many Western democratic nations and consequently; especially, China’s actions in maintaining and resorting order on its own domestic the affairs during the June 4 – use of force upon civilians and protestors. As a result, it damaged the Chinese economy and its image as a nation (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 312). Obstacles were created when it came to foreign policy decision making. On June 5, the United States stopped weapon sales and exchanges between military leaders. Further action was made on June 20; exchanges above level of assistant secretary were banned; civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was put hold; and representatives at the World Bank and Asian Development Bank were instructed to postpone any considerations of new loans to China (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 312). Ministerial visits in China were cancelled and a number of international banking and other commercial staff were left jobless (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 312). This created China experienced a two year decline in credit ratings, foreign trade and investment, and tourist visits (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 312).

Although in the past, the Chinese government made decisions on certain economic and strategic that possessed foreign policy dilemma from states, Saddam Hussien’s invasion into Kuwait in 1990 provided the Chinese government a chance to restore their relations with Western states especially with the US (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 314). In order for the US to take control and maintain the conflict Kuwait; they needed the UN’s approval to use force against the Iraqi military (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 314). However, the UN would only come to an agreement with US request, if China voted in favour to resolve the Kuwait conflict (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 314). This is because China was a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which entitles them with veto power. During the Gulf crisis, China voted for a number of UN resolutions that imposed political, military and economic sanctions on Iraq (Smith, Hadfield and Dunne, 2008, p. 314).

All levels of analysis – individual, state and international – have a relationship; they are not separate entities. When decisions are made on one of these levels it has the ability to influence and impact decision making on all levels. It is like a domino effect; when change occurs, it causes a similar change nearby, which then causes other entities to change their form to accommodate the new conditions. This has happened quiet similarly to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. On the individual level, the Chinese government is an aggressive dictator and has structured itself as one-party. Consequently, this has caused the Chinese public on a national level to rebel against Chinese authorities. A number of riots were launched to express that China should be a democratic nation. This challenged many Western democratic nations’ human rights values and as a result, it has damaged the Chinese economy and its image as a nation. However other foreign policy decision making made from another system (the UN) had given the opportunity for China to correct and restore Western relationships. Decision making bodies on all levels must evaluate and consider about cultural and historical conditions. These are factors that affect national bureaucracies, leaders and individual members of the government body as to why they make particular decisions.

List of References
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BCC News. (2008). 1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square. Retrieved November 1, 2010 from

Hendry, J. (2008). An Introduction to Social Anthropology: Sharing Our Worlds 2nd Edition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Giles, L. (1910). Sun Tzu on the Art of War: The Oldest Military Treatise in the World. Retrieved September 16, 2010 from

Martin, M. (2010). Understanding China’s Political System. United States: Congressional Research Service.

Sen, K. (2008). “Mediating Political Transition in Asia.” in Political Regimes and the Media in Asia. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1 – 10.

Smith, S. E. (2010). What was the Tiananmen Square Massacre?. Retrieved November 1, 2010 from

Smith, S., Hadfield, A., and T. Dunne. (2008). Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases.Oxford: Oxford University Press

Wang, J. (1998). ‘Democracy Wall-The Roots of a movement,’ in China Rights Forum

Whittaker, C., and C, Pyrce-Jones. (2010). Cultural Revolution (Part I). Retrieved October 26, 2010 from

Whittaker, C., and C, Pyrce-Jones. (2010). Cultural Revolution (Part II). Retrieved October 26, 2010 from

Zhao, Y. (2008). ‘Reconfiguring Party-State Power’, in Communication in China: Political Economy, Power and Conflict. Lanham: Rowan and Littlefield, pp. 19 – 74.

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