Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lost the battle, won the war 

The bus picked us up at the North Gate. Yesterday was the annual trip to the clinic for the faculty physical exams. The lady doing the ultra-sound said that my liver fat was "light" to "medium." Last year it was "heavy," or "severe," so I guess things are getting a little better. I have been combining a lot of hiking with some basic dietary changes--mainly avoiding red meat and eating lots of vegetables.

On the way to the clinic, the faculty party chairman kindly reminded us all of the upcoming anniversary (which is today) of the student protests, and asked us not to get involved in any demonstrations. He said that if we got a message on our cell phones inviting us to join something, we should not respond.

Personally, I don't think the party has anything to worry about. No one in China has any interest in this kind of thing. Well, except for the foreign media. And the government, of course. I think there are a couple reasons for this. The first is the obvious reason that everybody knows this is a sensitive issue, and nobody wants trouble. But the second is more important. I have always said that the students lost the battle and won the war. China has changed. While the young people did not get exactly what they wanted, it must be said that they didn't really know exactly what they wanted. And it must also be said that the needs expressed by their demands have largely been met.

To me, it was just another Asian student riot. At first. I was living in North Dakota at the time, and as I watched the news reports every day, I really didn't take it very seriously. Then, one evening, I was watching the news, and I saw the pictures of the students from the Art department at Beida carrying the statue they called the "Goddess of Democracy," but which was clearly a mock-up of the Statue of Liberty. At that point, I realized that this was something different.

Will this issue ever be addressed? Yes, I think so. Ma Ying-jeou has insisted that this is a condition for eventual reunification. But I don't think China is ready for this right now. It's still a little too tender.

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