From the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident to the 1999 Kosovo Crisis

From the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident to the 1999 Kosovo Crisis

--In the memorial of the tenth anniversary of Tiananmen Square Incident

By Jing Zhao, Representative & Research Fellow

US-Japan-China Comparative Policy Research Institute, San Jose


Although I usually do not read Chinese material, a lot of information on the ongoing crisis in Yugoslavia, most of it through the Internet, came to me, especially after the Chinese Embassy bombing. As Ryan Dunch ("Bombings, Blood Debts, and Mutual Suspicion," _History News Service_, May 26, 1999) points out: "The events of May 1999 may mark a decisive turning point toward mutual suspicion and hostility in the relationship between China and the United States, with perilous implications for the twenty-first century." The "unplanned" bombing puts the unavoidable conflict between Beijing and the Washington-Tokyo-Taipei axis much more early than expected. Peoples on both sides have not yet prepared for the coming of this situation.

The bombing itself may or may not be an incident, but it is a symbolic indication of how the Kosovo crisis is related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident, just ten years ago.

People still remember that soon following the Tiananmen Square Incident, one after another, most of the world's Socialist regimes collapsed, in an eerie reversal of the Cold War's "domino theory." Then in 1991 the first and greatest of the Socialist state powers, the Soviet Union, astonishingly annulled itself. The Tiananmen Square Incident became the most powerful stimulus to accelerate this process.

As shown by great thinkers (such as Peter Kropotkin), a historical reaction in one place always brings about reactionary responses in other global settings. It is the Beijing regime’s crushing of the democracy movement ten years ago which helped and encouraged the regimes in Tokyo, Washington, Taipei and others to utilize the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident to promote their reactionary policy.

During this process, the Tokyo regime was the first to fully utilize the Tiananmen Square Incident to pursue its backward militaristic policy because Japan received most of the shocking impact of the Tiananmen Square Incident. In the Japanese domestic political structure, the opposition, led by the Socialist Party, completely collapsed due to their close relations with the Beijing regime. In the international field, the Tokyo regime exploited the most advantage when the Beijing regime was isolated from the "international world" by trading with the Beijing regime on how to handle the fate of Chinese democratic activists in Japan. This is the darkest time in the Sino-Japanese relations history since their "normalization" in 1972 As the Chinese student representative in Osaka area, I witnessed and experienced this historical change when I became a hostage between the Beijing and Tokyo regimes after they failed pressing me to betray our democracy movement.

Along with the complete collapse of the "progressive" forces as a real political entity, the whole politics in all industrialized countries rapidly shifted toward a conservative, reactionary and militaristic direction. After ten years of the Tiananmen Square Incident, the U.S., the sole superpower, began to implement its imperialist global strategy in most prosperous (Europe and East Asia) and resourceful (Middle East) areas. While still continuing its bombing against Iraq in Middle East, the U.S. forced European allies and Japan to "redefine" the NATO strategy and U.S.-Japanese Security frame to transform them from a somewhat "exclusively defense-oriented" (senshu boei) regime to an globally aggressive military alliance.

Why did the U.S. present an ultimatum (see, for example, Henry Kissinger ‘s "New World Disorder," _ Newsweek International, May 31, 1999) demanding Yugoslavia’s surrender instead of a comprising negotiation at Rambouilet? Among others, one important reason is that, through three years political backward shifting after the 1996 Clinton-Hashimoto Declaration, Japan has finally finished the process of forwarding the new "Defense Guidelines." On April 27 and May 25, Japan’s House of Representatives and House of Councilors passed the three Defense Guidelines laws, to ensure that Japan will mobilize its national resources to support any U.S.-initiated military actions "surrounding Japan." For the Beijing regime, it is too clear that China will become another Iraq or Yugoslavia -- if not the next one which will most likely be North Korea, though.

For the Beijing regime, though obviously there does exist one option which is to reverse its policy on the "counter-revolutionary" Tiananmen Square Incident, it simply could not do so because most of the current ruling class obtained or maintained their power by the incident. So they have to take the remaining choice: to engage China’s nationalism. For Washington’s policy makers and strategists, now they are facing a "new" face of Chinese youth who turned their protest from Zhongnanhai to the White House.