The Lilies of Tian'anmen
The Lilies of Tian’anmen – Thomas DianaAntenne 2*, 8 o’clock special edition, Monday, June 5, 1989.,Hervé Claude :« Good morning,In China the specter of civil war is now looming. In recent weeks the repression has left tens of people dead and thousands injured. But this bloody repression has not silenced the revolt of the students and the entire population. Several facts make us fear today that a real civil war may break out. The day before yesterday in Beijing we saw police officers fighting, on one side those who want to obey orders and on the other those who aspire to the same freedoms as the demonstrators. There are, as we know, other demonstrations, other revolts in all the major cities of the country. And throughout these events, the population of the Chinese capital has continued its resistance.Let’s get to Martine Laroche-Joubert on site. »Martine Laroche-Joubert :« As we know, China is governed by an authoritarian regime that seems to have taken on a dynastic appearance since Chiang Ching-kuo succeeded his late father's Chiang Kai-Chek in 1975. The year 1976 even gave hope for democratization with the authorization of a first opposition party, the Progressive Democratic Party, but since then nothing. Here the oppositions are numerous, but all of them are illegal and the regime reigns with an iron fist, systematically repressing demonstrations with violence.But a movement has come to change the situation. It is a student movement, the Wild Lilies movement, which denounces dictatorship, corruption and nepotism. Demonstrations began last April and multiplied throughout the country, but systematically repressed. What do these students want, you may wonder? Well, they want the same thing as anyone else in their place: democracy.A few weeks ago, the independence movements of Xinjiang and Tibet came out of the shadows and President Chiang Ching-kuo then declared martial law in these two regions and imposed a total blackout on the press. The intervention of the army could have frightened the students, but this is not the case. Since then, the students have occupied all the universities in the country and the demonstrations have turned into a real pitched battle against the riot police. However, two days ago, in some areas the police became increasingly reluctant to suppress the growing protests. In Shanghai and Beijing, demonstrators called for a general strike, blocked streets and set up barricades. The call was heard as opposition parties, all of them illegal, joined the demonstrators and most of the country’s factories are now on strike, starting the largest strike in history. President Chiang was expected to speak, but still nothing.Since yesterday the situation threatens to get out of control at any moment while remaining very unclear. In the evening, the army began to deploy throughout the country, obviously martial law has been declared all over the national territory, despite the absence of an official communiqué. The population was astonished to discover that in Sichuan, Fujian and Taiwan; the army, demonstrators and local elected officials declared that they no longer recognized the authority of President Chiang.Are we about to witness a new Chinese civil war? It is a fear that haunts the minds. A few hours ago the President of the Soviet Union Vladimir Kryuchkov stood next to the American President Alexander Haig at Camp David. Both called for calm, respect for the Chinese people’s aspirations and urged the Chinese authorities not to use force to resolve the crisis but rather to embark on a path of reform.As you can see in these pictures taken a few minutes ago, the Tian’anmen square we are standing in is occupied by thousands of peaceful demonstrators. Last night, the demonstrators were joined by the police, who were charged with silencing them. If you look around the square, you can see that the area is surrounded by the army. These are the troops and tanks of General Xu Qinxian’s 38th Army that took place tonight in and around the Chinese capital. So far, no clashes have taken place between the demonstrators and the army, which is simply protecting key locations and monitoring communication routes. Some soldiers and students are even talking quietly, while the Square of the Gate of Heavenly Peace resounds to the sound of revolutionary songs and speeches day and night.In these images taken at dawn, this anonymous, hooded soldier tells us that it is out of the question for him to attack the demonstrators, for several reasons: first, because he considers their demands for democracy to be legitimate and because he himself wants the country to modernize and reform. In addition, his sister is among the demonstrators.Politically, therefore, the demonstrators are supported by the illegal opposition parties of the People’s Party, the New Power Party and the Communist Party, as well as the legal opposition represented by the Progressive Democratic Party. But even within the Kuomintang itself, opinions diverge since it is common knowledge that the party is composed of several factions and this may be the source of the political uncertainty and vagueness of the last few days. The left wing of the party led by Lee Teng-hui may well swing the situation. Uncertainty reigns; President Chiang remains silent and invisible to the point of whispering that a coup d’etat may have taken place in the night.There is no doubt that this day will be decisive for China’s history. The country is at the edge of the abyss, as the next few hours could see massive repression, civil war, or a bloodless collapse of the regime. »* Antenne 2, or A2 for short, is a national television programming company operating a French national general-interest public service television channel of the same name, which succeeded the second ORTF color channel on January 1, 1975, and was broadcast until September 6, 1992, when it became France 2.Author’s note:I wrote this little text at the beginning of October for the Babelio’s October 2020 Writing Challenge. This short text was written in two hours, this story mixes Taiwan’s Wild Lily student movement of 1990 and the events of Tian’anmen of 1989 in a world where the nationalists would have won the Chinese civil war. In this world as in ours, Chiang Kai-shek is a dictator and his son succeeds him at the head of the country. All the characters quoted in the text are historical figures, but alternate historic.If you like this text, I invite you to read the first two volumes of my alternate universe ‘At the Edge of the Abyss’. Cycle 1 is already available in English and Cycle 2 will be available in the next few days. I chose the narrative process of the last chapter of Cycle 2 to offer you, ‘The Lilies of Tian’anmen’.The original text is in French and you can find it on my blog or on the Forum des Uchronies Francophones (Francophone Alternate History Forum).