Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CSA's Hero of the Month: Tank Man

Did you know that March’s Hero of the Month was CSA’s “Tank Man?”

“Tank Man” is the nickname for the man who stood up against the Chinese government by standing in front of a series of military tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Learn more about the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, a crucial moment in China's modern history, and Tank Man as I go over some of the the key facts and the moments leading up to the Tank Man's act of defiance. This is probably the shortest summary of the Tiananmen Square Protests that you will ever read!


-Since 1978, Deng Xiaoping, a head political leader at the time, led a series of economic and political reforms that led to the gradual implementation of a market economy and some political liberalization

-Some students and intellectuals believed that the reforms had not gone far enough and that China needed to further reform its political system.

-The protests were in large measure sparked by the death of former Secretary General Hu Yaobang, who resigned from the position of Secretary General of the CPC

-Hu Yaobang's calls for "rapid reform" and his almost open contempt of "Maoist excesses" made him a suitable scapegoat in the eyes of Deng Xiaoping and others

-Hu Yaobang's sudden death, due to heart attack, on 15 April 1989 provided a perfect opportunity for the students to gather once again, not only to mourn the deceased Secretary General, but also to have their voices heard in "demanding a reversal of the verdict against him" and bringing renewed attention to the pro-democracy protests that had taken place just a couple of years earlier

Protest Development

-Small voluntary civilian gatherings started on 15 April in the middle of the Tiananmen Square in the form of mourning for Hu Yaobang.

-On the afternoon of 17 April in Beijing, 500 students from China University of Political Science and Law marched to the eastern gate of the Great Hall of the People, part of Tiananmen Square, and commenced mourning activities for Hu Yaobang.

-The gathering in front of the Great Hall of the People, a building located in Tiananmen Square used for legislative and ceremonial activities by the government, was soon deemed obstructive to the normal operation of the building, so police intervened and attempted to disperse the students by persuasion.

-Starting at midnight on the night of 17 April, three thousand students from Peking University marched from the campus towards Tiananmen Square, and soon nearly a thousand students from Tsinghua University joined the ranks.

-As its size grew, the gathering gradually evolved into a protest, as students began to draft a list of pleas and suggestions that they wanted the government to listen to and carry through.

-On the morning of 18 April, a few thousand students gathered in front of the Zhongnanhai building complex, the residence of the government, demanding to see government leaders and get answers to their questions.

-On 20 April, police finally dispersed the students in front of the Zhongnanhai by force, to ensure proper function of the building complex. The police employed batons and minor clashes were reported.

-Unlike the Tiananmen protests of 1987, which consisted mainly of students and intellectuals, the protests in 1989 commanded widespread support from the urban workers who were alarmed by the new economic reforms, growing inflation, and corruption.

- On 13 May, two days prior to the highly-publicized state visit by the reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, huge groups of students occupied Tiananmen Square and started a hunger strike, insisting the government begin talks with the designated student representatives.

Hunger strikes

-The students decided that to sustain their movement and impede any loss of momentum, a hunger strike would need to be enacted. The hunger strike brought widespread support for the students and "the ordinary people of Beijing rallied to protect the hunger strikers...because the act of refusing sustenance and courting government reprisals convinced onlookers that the students were not just seeking personal gains but (were) sacrificing themselves for the Chinese people as a whole".

June 1989

-Party elders approved the decision to put down the "counterrevolutionary riot" and clear the square with military force. Most hope it can be done without casualties.

-As word spreads that hundreds of thousands of troops are approaching from all four corners of the city, Beijingers flood the streets to block them. At about 10:30 p.m., near the Muxidi apartment buildings -- home to high-level Party officials and their families -- the citizens became aggressive as the army tried to break through their barricades. The soldiers started firing on the unarmed civilians with AK-47s loaded with battlefield ammunition.

Tank Man

-By the morning of June 5, the Chinese army was in complete control of Beijing. But when all protest in the city seems silenced, the world witnessed one final act of defiance.

-About midday, as a column of tanks slowly moved toward Tiananmen Square, an unarmed young man carrying shopping bags suddenly steps out in front of the tanks. Instead of running over him, the first tank tries to go around, but the young man steps in front of it again. They repeat this maneuver several more times before the tank stops and turns off its motor. Soon, the young man is whisked to the side of the road by an unidentified group of people and disappears into the crowd.

To this day, who he was and what became of him remains a mystery.


CSA is looking into hosting another event next month (April) to continue the discussion about Tank Man! Look out for our emails detailing where this event will be and when!

We hope to see you there!


If you missed CSA’s showing of The Tank Man, you can watch it online here on the PBS website:

Tank Man Wikipedia Page:

Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989:

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year and a Strong Economy

On December 31 President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) gave a New Year’s address via state TV and radio stations. He stressed the continuation of a strong economy through openness to the international community and the engagement in practices of trade that benefit everyone. He also mentioned putting forth more effort in the relief of suffering in the poorest nations.

Reading about Hu Jintao’s national speech made me question…Who exactly is Hu Jintao? As individuals in the Chinese American community, we have heard of him through conversation and the media, but what Is Hu Jintao’s background and what makes him so appealing to many Chinese citizens?

Hu Jintao was born in Shandong province in 1942. His mother died while he was young and while his dad owned a tea trading business, the family was still relatively poor. Ultimately, an aunt raised Hu. He was a talented student and while at university in 1964, he joined the Communist Party of China. He eventually graduated with a degree in hydraulic engineering.

Finally, through a series of promotions throughout his career in the government, Hu Jintao rose to the top of the political ladder in the ‘90s. He has been the president of China for seven years now.

Many political analysts say that 2010 is the year of China—some say it will be a good year, while others say it will be bad. Whether it is a good or bad year for China, China will be in the spotlight and Hu Jintao will be its leader.

See the full New Year's Eve speech:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

China Commemorates Sixty Years

The People’s Republic of China (not to be confused with the Republic of China, which is also known as Taiwan) is celebrating its 60th anniversary on October 1st. As the government prepares for the festivities and events during the National Day, hundreds of thousands from all over the country are also preparing to fly out to Beijing to commemorate sixty years under the new republic.

China’s plans for the festivities are elaborate and even include an elaborate military parade. As the largest military parade in history, government officials plan on showcasing “their newest weaponry as well as the usual tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, missiles, attack planes, bombers and helicopters.” President Hu Jintao has also commissioned an extra long stretch limousine, 19 feet long, for the festivities. Rehearsals for the parades have already started and the training for security personnel is said to be close to Olympic proportions.

Pre-Holiday rush at Changsha Railway Station in Changsha, China (From

Some scholars, like Zhou Xiaozheng (a professor at People’s University in Beijing), believe that specific plans, such as the military parade, are over the top and show-off too much military might in an age that is supposed to be characterized by cooperation and peace. Others say that these plans are perfectly appropriate for a celebration of a country’s development and growth, especially when such a large part has come from new direction and innovation in the nation’s State Department.

What are your thoughts on China’s plans for the 60th anniversary? Are they too grand and unnecessary? Should China celebrate its nation’s anniversary in a more reserved manner and not one that is boastful? Or do you see their celebration as a way to bring their citizens together and be proud of the achievements of their nation?

Thanks and until next time,


For more information, check out the following:

L.A. Times:


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Unrest in Urumqi

I am sure that many of you have been hearing news about the unrest in China's western region of Xinjiang. Take a few minutes to read this new post on the events that led to the violence and the history of the Uighur people in China.

Who are the Uyghuars/Uighurs?
The Uighurs are Muslims living in western, China. Officially, the region is named Xinjiang, meaning “new territory,” but many Uighurs prefer to call it by its more controversial name, Uyghurstan or East Turkistan. Not only do Uighurs have a distinctly different appearance from Han Chinese, but they also have their own Turkic language and unique culture.

Uighurs declared independence from China in the early part of the 20th century, but they soon found their state brought under complete control of the Chinese government in 1949.

Chinese officials claim that “Uighur militants have been waging a violent campaign for an independent state by plotting bombings, sabotage and civic unrest." Since the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., this characterization has only intensified.

The Uighurs:

What happened?

July 5- A small number of Uighurs - Muslim inhabitants of Xinjiang region - gathered in the provincial capital, Urumqi, to protest. A couple of weeks ago, two Uighuars died in a brawl that was suspected to have been against ethnic Han Chinese in Guangdong province. This led to discontent within the Uighur community and a strong desire to seek justice.
-Uighur protests spread across the city where Han Chinese account for ¾ of the population
-Uighurs trampled through Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, setting cars on fire and destroying stores.

July 6- some Chinese officials blamed Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled Uighur leader, for inciting the Uighar people to violently protest. She responded with an official statement denying the claims (

July 7 – a death toll of 156 and more than 1,000 people injured is confirmed by Chinese officials
-groups of Han Chinese armed with homemade weapons take to the streets to seek revenge
-they smashed shops and encountered groups of Uighurs
-the riot police stepped in and imposed a curfew running from 9pm tonight until 8am Wednesday morning


What led to the violence?

As one of the few majority Muslim areas in China, Uighurs often feel suppressed by the Chinese government and the dominant Han population. Uighurs assert that their "religious, commercial and cultural activities have been gradually curtailed by the Chinese state.” Furthermore, Beijing has been accused of arranging mass immigration of Han Chinese to Xinjiang to slowly decrease Uighur influence. “Han Chinese currently account for roughly 40% of Xinjiang's population, while about 45% are Uighurs.” Whether or not the claims against Beijing are true, it is certain that the small Uighur population does not always fit in with the rest of China.

A protest on July 5 in Urumqi, the region’s capital, turned violent with Uighurs and Han Chinese ruthlessly attacking one another in the streets.

The BBC reports that Chinese authorities blame Xinjiang separatists based outside China for the unrest, while Uighur exiles said police had fired indiscriminately on a peaceful protest calling for an investigation into the deaths of two Uighurs in clashes with Han Chinese at a factory in southern China.

To find out more: the BBC, MSNBC, The National Post

I want to hear your comments on the Uighur's situation in China. Were the actions taken by the Chinese state legitimate? Do you think they went too far or did they have no choice but to mitigate the situation through force?

Monday, June 1, 2009

20th Anniversary - Tiananmen Square Protests

The summer of 2009 marks the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests, which were a series of political manifestations in Tiananmen Square that turned from peaceful to violent in just a number of short weeks.

1. What is Tiananmen Square?

Tiananmen (simplified: 天安门广场; pinyin: Tiān'ānmén Guǎngchǎng) is a large plaza near the center of Beijing literally meaning the Gate of Heavenly Peace and has been the sight of numerous political events and student protests. It was built in the 1420s by the Ming Dynasty and was originally designed to be the front door to the Forbidden City.

2. Why did people start gathering in April of 1989 in Tiananmen Square?

Students, workers, and officials began gathering in Tiananmen Square after Hu Yaobang, a former communist party chief and leading reformist, died of a heart attack at the age of 73 on April 15. Mourners paid their respects to Yaobang, but also expressed their disapproval of the Chinese government’s pace of reform in the country. The demonstrations spread as thousands more joined the cause and lasted until June 4th when government officials decided to use forceful measures to suppress the protests.

3. What led to the June 3rd-4th shootings?

After about a month of strong protests by gatherers, the Chinese government declared a state of martial law in several districts in Beijing and began to move troops in. Although the presence of government troops did not slow down the protests at first, hundreds and perhaps even thousands died after Communist Party elders approved the decision to put down the “counter-revolutionary riot” by force.

4. International Reaction

Most of the Western world including the United States and Britain denounced the Chinese government’s use of forceful action to suppress the protests whereas many African and Asian nations stayed silent during the protests. Countries such as North Korea, Cuba, East Germany, and Pakistan supported the Chinese government’s response.

The EU condemned Chinese government response and cancelled all high level contacts and loans with China. The EU maintains an arms embargo against China to this day.

George H.W. Bush suspended military sales and visits to China.

5. Why Care?

Whether or not you agree with the Chinese government’s response to the 1989 protests is your own personal choice. What may be even more important to consider below the surface of this monumental event though, are the intricacies and the history of the Chinese nation. All current day politics are bound to reasons of historical importance and value. Why did the government decide to respond the way they did instead of using another tactic? What are some clues from China’s history that can direct us to understand the governmental thinking that ultimately lead to an extremely bloody silencing? Look beyond the surface. Search deeper and always ask why they may have acted the way that they did.

Furthermore, as we approach the twentieth anniversary of the killings, the Chinese government has been surprisingly silent. Do you think this could be a part of China’s history that governmental leaders are embarrassed about and would like to forget? Or could it be that the Chinese government chooses not to respond to the anniversary of the killings because they believe, to this day, that they were in the right and therefore, do not e need to justify their prior actions?

To find out more about the Tiananmen Square Protests, check these sights out!

Tiananmen Square Interactive Map:

The BBC:

Until next time,


Sunday, April 26, 2009

China Censors Obama's Speech

Did you know that parts of Obama's inauguration speech were censored in China?

That's right.  The Chinese media seemed to cut out parts of Obama's speech that referred to "facing down fascism and communism" and "silencing of dessent."  

In fact, in this clip from CNN, CCTV news reporters seemed to grow silent and cut back to the studio once they reach the part in Obama's speech about "facing down communism."

It's an interesting clip; take a moment to look at it!

What are your thoughts in general about China's censorship laws?  Do you feel like they are protecting their citizens or hurting them?  I want to hear your thoughts, so comment away!

Until next time,


CSA e-board 2009-2010

Congrats to the newly elected members of CSA's 2009-2010 e-board:

The 2008-2009 CSA Executive Board

Co-Presidents: Steve To & Helen Wu
Vice President: Chen Chen
Treasurer: Ernie Huang
Secretary: Kaisi Guo
Culture Chair: Naomi Yu
AHANA Caucus Rep: Lisa Mao
Political and Educational Officer: Jennifer Chen

Public Relations Chair: TBA!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's Pick for Commerce Secretary: Gary Locke

News has just come in that Barack Obama may pick former Washington Governor, Gary Locke as his new commerce secretary! Locke was the first Chinese American to be elected as governor in United States history. He beat incumbant Tim Hill in 1996 and was reelected in 2000. Locke was third in line to be selected as Obama's new secretary of commerce. Both Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg, Obama's first and second choices, withdrew their nominations for various reasons.

What does the commerce secretary of the United States actually do? If elected, Gary Locke would become head of the sector concerned with business and industry. The department seeks "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce," which simply means it deals with promoting US trade domestically and internationally. Locke would be responsible for developing US trade policies and advising Obama on trade issues.

Interesting Facts! If appointed, Locke would become the first Asian American to serve as Commerce Secretary. He would also become the third Asian American in the president's cabinet, which would be the most of any administration in United States history.

Until next time,

More information: CNN, Department of Commerce, New York Times

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hilary in China!

Hey everyone,

Hilary Clinton made a stop in China this past week on her first tour around Asia as Secretary of State. She spoke with Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, about a few pressing issues including:
1) The environment
2) The economic crisis
3) Strengthening US and Chinese Relations

Her visit to China comes at a crucial time on an international time line. The discussions she has with Chinese officials and the decisions that the US and China make together now can greatly alter the course events for many years to come. In other words, this is history in the making, guys!

The Environment
Clinton toured an energy efficient plant last Saturday in Beijing. She encouraged Chinese officials to be aware of the environmental hazards and concerns that affect a developing nation and to not "make the same mistakes we [the US] did." In an effort to advance progress in green development, Clinton curbed issues such as Chinese Human Rights. No specific details on how the two nations would work together to create greener nations were laid out--only the acknowledgment that environmental causes would become increasingly more important as development of the two nations continued. Furthermore, some research collaboration by the two nations has started.

The Economic Crisis
Hilary Clinton assured Chinese officials that China's holdings of US Treasuries were well worth the investment. China is now the largest foreign buyer of US Treasury securities. Buying US Treasuries will help the US economy to receive the boost that it needs, help the Chinese economy as a result, and together, the two nations could act together to renew the world's economy, said Clinton. The Chinese government has stated that it will in fact continue to invest in US Treasuries. A Chinese economist at Peking University argues, "Objectively speaking, helping the US economy is good for both China and the US." It is important to note, however, that not everyone in China feels the same way about helping a flagging US economy. Some believe China should be investing more at home in projects to help its own economy.

Strengthening Chinese and US Relations
Throughout the course of the meeting between the two countries, Clinton stressed the importance of cooperation between the two to lead the world and to solve problems including security issues with North Korea and Iran. Despite the fact that she gained attention for her criticism of China's human rights approach in 1995 as First Lady at a United Nations women's conference in Beijing, Clinton marked such an issue as only secondary to a stronger and deeper relationship between the United States and China.
Associated Press Video with Clinton!


Sunday, January 25, 2009


The New Year celebration falls on January 26, 2009 this year.  It is the year of the Ox, which is representative of "prosperity through fortitude and hard work," according to Wikipedia.  Instead of doing the typical "History on Chinese New Year's" I'm going to touch upon some interesting aspects of the New Year such as what people eat and why, the traditions and symbols, and what Chinese people are doing all over the globe to celebrate!
Traditional Foods
* Laba Zhou OR Eight Treasures Rice (glutinous rice, walnuts, dry fruit, raisins, sweet red bean paste, jujube dates, and almonds) - eaten on the eighth day of the celebrations and dates back to the legend of Laba Zhou.  If you  are interested reading the tale, go here!
-Black Sesame Rice Ball Soup
-Chicken, duck, fish and pork dishes
-Noodles - represent longevity!
-Tangerines and oranges - represent good wealth and fortune
-Dumplings - because they are delicious...and they represent prosperity
-FISH - fish is must-have New Year's food.   The word "yu" sounds like another Chinese character "yu" which means wealth.
..yummm all this is making me hungry for some New Year's food.
Traditions and Symbols
Festival of Lanterns
There are 15 days to the celebration of the Chinese New Year.  The 15th day is often known as The Festival of Lanterns and marks the end of the celebrations.  Paper lanterns are hung and lit throughout the streets.
The Dragon
Class of 2010 and 2011 are made up of people born in the year of the dragon.  woot woot.  Many Chinese people see themselves as descendants of the dragon, so on the fifth and the last day of the celebrations, there are dancing dragon performances.
Celebrate Good Times...Come on!

London - Last year, London had dragons, performers from China, and even the Olympic Games mascot at their annual parade in Chinatown London.  No doubt that there will be another one just as big this year!
BOSTON - NEXT Sunday, the 1st of February, there will be a lion dance winding through the streets of Boston Chinatown.  Go into the city with your friends to celebrate!  There will certainly be tons of entertainment and lots of great food.
Paris - I will be at a parade of my own next Sunday, Feb. 1st, in Paris Chinatown celebrating the New Year's festivities!! Watch out, I'm going to post some videos of the event soon afterwards! Paris Chinatown is one of the largest Chinatowns in Europe and always puts on a show that will surely please everyone.
For more information, visit these awesome sites I stumbled upon: 
Until next time,