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Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Dear readers,

Today is June Fourth, an infamous day in the history of the People’s Republic of China. To mark the 30th anniversary of the events that made this day taboo in the country, SupChina managing editor Anthony Tao has put together a list of 30 essential stories to read about June 4, 1989.

The list ranges from firsthand and contemporary accounts of the protests and bloodshed, to analysis of Communist Party documents illuminating what led to the decision to use deadly force, to poetry and multimedia resources and essays that make the monumental events of 1989 feel personal to this day. Click here to read the list.

I’ll add that Chinese people deal with the taboo of Tiananmen in many different ways. Some, of course, choose to defy the government and remember — an often-criminalized act of protest against government-enforced amnesia in itself. Others have these reactions such as these:

  • Awkwardness: “You feel the tension rising in the air the second the subject is brought up. You struggle to come up with a safe euphemism. You keep an eye on your surroundings, even though there’s no evidence anyone is watching,” Viola Zhou writes in Inkstone.
  • Intentional avoidance: CNN reports on some people who “faced down the tanks in Tiananmen Square,” but now “want their children to forget it.”
  • Acceptance of the official line: “As we mark what happened on this day thirty years ago, the uncomfortable truth is that many of those who participated in the 1989 protests made their peace with CCP rule,” Yuan Yi Zhu, a DPhil candidate in International Relations at Nuffield College tweeted in a thought-provoking thread.
  • And for some, the “trauma is still too raw” to even talk about Tiananmen, the writer Wei Ting says on her personal website.

—Lucas Niewenhuis, Associate Editor

China issues more warnings about travel to U.S.

Today, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a warning to all Chinese citizens visiting the United States. Via Xinhua (in Chinese, our translation):

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, on the afternoon of June 4 from the State Council Information Office, issued a travel safety warning to Chinese tourists visiting the U.S. Recently, American shooting incidents, robberies, and incidents of theft have been frequent. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to fully assess the risk of travelling to the U.S., and promptly understand the public security of their destination, the laws and statutory information, and to improve their awareness of safety and security. This warning is effective until December 31, 2019.

  • Also today, China’s foreign ministry issued a short statement (in Chinese) warning citizens of “many kinds of harassment” by U.S. authorities. That warning is also in effect until the end of the year.
  • These two warnings follow a Ministry of Education notice (in Chinese), issued yesterday, that said Chinese students in the U.S. are facing restrictions and difficulties with visas that are affecting their ability to complete their studies, and warned both students and scholars to be aware of increased risk when going to the U.S.
  • “This is the next iteration of where this is going as it moves from the economy and security to people-to-people,” scholar Jude Blanchette told the SCMP.
  • “Both the US and China are going to weaponize talent. China is not wrong to issue this warning,” Blanchette added.
  • “It’s certainly raised the anxiety of all my students, even those who would not seem to be directly affected,” University of Michigan professor Mary Gallagher told the SCMP. “This is bad,” she added, commenting that she was expecting a decline in Chinese student enrollment in the coming year.
  • The Washington Post also reported on universities bracing for declining Chinese student enrollments, citing examples from George Washington University, Emory University, Colgate University, Pomona College, and the University of California at Berkeley.
  • “Several Chinese graduate students and academics told Bloomberg News in recent weeks that they found the U.S. academic and job environment increasingly unfriendly,” Bloomberg reports (porous paywall).
  • Tourism is a slightly different story, as Bloomberg reported that “Chinese tourists are still in love with Hollywood” and are visiting Los Angeles in droves, but the CEO of hotel chain Marriott commented to CNBC that “Chinese travelers 'don't feel as welcome' in the US due to trade tensions.”
  • For more on current cross-border people-to-people relations, specifically in academia, see these two pieces from NPR: A foot in both worlds: pushing for academic freedom in China; and A foot in both worlds: Students under suspicion in China and the U.S.

For daily updates on the deepening trade and tech cold war between the U.S., and many more China-related news topics, subscribe to SupChina Access.

—Lucas Niewenhuis, Associate Editor

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