my review of a book by a student leader in 1989

A Heart For Freedom by Chai Ling

Recently a friend recommended me the memoir by Chai Ling, one of the key student leaders at Tiananmen back in 1989. I read keenly it. As someone participated in the movement, even though I wasn’t in Beijing, I was very interested in the subject and a memoir told by someone right in the frontline of the movement, with her insight, could potentially be fascinating.

But I was disappointed. The memoir is too long, covering her growing up in a small town called Rizhao in Shandong province, her life at Beijing University, her involvement with the unprecedented democratic movement, her escape to the west and then her conversion to Christianity. Lacking a central theme, it reads disjointed. There are so many tense, emotional charged moments that can be used as great material but never really realized. It is not a well-written book, sad to say.

I could forgive the poor writing skill if I feel the author is honest and trustworthy. But I think the book struck me as self-serving. The only brutally honest parts are the revelation of her four abortions. Even that served a point. I am not sure that she is really the person she tried to portrait herself. Chai Ling described a conversation between herself and Wang Dan, another student leader. Wang warned Chai that many people participating in the movement had their own agendas. Chai asked Wang what was his. Wang supposed replied that he loved a bit of fame. I am not sure such a conversation really took place. Look at them now, Wang serves as a history professor in Taiwan and still works to push for democracy in China.

Despite her talks about finding her god and love and hope, she doesn’t behave like a Christian. She sued the creators of the award-winning documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace for defaming her. A quote from the documentary seems to suggest that Chai implied the students leaders were making use of the students’ lives and well-being for their own personal gains. Chai lost the lawsuit and several others lawsuits.

There have been quite a few memoirs on ‘June 4’. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone.

I am glad that the incident hasn’t not been forgotten by people in the world. Last night, the well attended vigil held in Hong Kong in the pouring rain was just an example.

See attached the picture I received – people living in the mainland have to be a little more subtle and creative in remembering the day.

__.JPG

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “my review of a book by a student leader in 1989

  1. I concur with your view about Chai Ling. Of all the Chinese student dissidents who led the student protesters that fateful week culminating in June 4, 1989 and the bloodshed…. Wang Dan was the most “wonkish” with an aura of intellectualism. Look at the rest and how dismal, pathetic, and opportunistic they have become. Wu-Er Kaixi has ballooned from the telegenic, charismatic Uighur on the Square who was the “poster boy” of the Western news media ratpack covering Tiananmen into a pot-bellied fat middle-aged media hound with a Taiwanese wife. His intellectual depth today is shallow. Lee Lu, also a smart-ass, has moved on, got his MBA, and became a “stock picker” and joined Warren Buffett’s hedge fund, Berkshire Hathaway. His biggest play, getting Buffettt to invest in BYD, the Shenzhen upstart electric car maker, made Lee Lu a very rich man. Instead of doing good, he has shifted to doing well… albeit for himself.
    All said, June 4 Tiananmen was a CNN-Cable TV-amplified event, stoked, orchestrated, and in many respects scripted by the Western-fueled “color revolutions” which sought to execute “regime change” in Moscow, Beijing, and other Communist capitals.
    The key players, CIA veteran cum U.S. ambassador to China then, James Lilley, has passed away…. and Winston Lord and his Shanghainese wife Bette Bao, have faded into retirement, muted, and probably dissapointed that the “color revolution” which germinated in Poland, with Lech Walesa, and Czekoslovakia, with Vaclav Havel, and culminated with Gorbachev’s “perestroika” and “glasnost” never blossomed from the seedlings spread by Euro-American CIA-machinations.
    Fast forward to today… Twenty-four years later… We are now into the Age of Information.
    With smartphones, blogging, the blogosphere and social media being so pervasive, omnipresent today, it would be intriguing to think what and how June 4, 1989 might have been massaged, handled, evolved, and micro-managed as well as macromanaged today, both inside and outside of China.
    Today, CNN, without Ted Turner, is a greatly diminished news organization.
    America is in turmoil domestically, politically gridlocked, fiscally gripped by crisis after crisis.
    Twenty-four years later, the world has changed and shifted. There has been a tectonic paradigm shift.
    Life goes on……. Yesterday…. Many of those 50,000 young Hongkongers who observed a candlelight vigil in commemoration of June 4, 1989, were not even born yet…. Twenty-four years ago. Their angst and anxiety, living under stress in the bling-bling world, not just in HKG…. But in China mainland, Taiwan, Singapore…. and overseas in the West, among the Chinese Diaspora, are heartfelt, genuine, and needed to be redressed.
    Hopefully, the world leaders, not just in China, but also in America, will honestly respond and do the right thing, as stewards for the listless younger generation…. Our future!
    We cannot afford to lose another generation!

  2. Please check your sources before you make claims about people. Chai Ling’s lawsuit against The Gate of Heavenly Peace was BEFORE she became a Christian. She did NOT lost the lawsuit, she DROPPED IT after her conversion.

    You have every right to disagree with her opinions and actions. To impugn her motives, however, shows an unkind streak in your nature. I challenge you to repent and turn to Christ, as she has, and to know God’s love and forgiveness, as she does. She’d be the first to say that she’s still far from perfect – and why do you expect her to be?

  3. Wow… wasn’t that cruel? May be your expectations were too high because you had started reading the book knowing about the writer’s illustrious past as a student leader of that time. Do, you think I would have the same feeling reading the book as I never heard the writers name?

    After reading your remarks – “I certainly wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone”, I couldn’t resist but place order for one old copy at $0.05 (plus the shipping cost out of my cash back money). However, I doubt if I would get any time to read the book soon.

  4. Wow… wasn’t that cruel? May be your expectations were too high because you had started reading the book knowing about the writer’s illustrious past as a student leader of that time. Do, you think I would have the same feeling reading the book as I never heard the writers name?

    After reading your remarks – “I certainly wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone”, I couldn’t resist but place order for one old copy at $0.05 (plus the shipping cost out of my cash back money). However, I doubt if I would get any time to read the book soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s