‘Freedom in China is precious’: Tiananmen Square protest veteran salutes new generation

Wilfred Chan

Rose Tang was stunned when she saw videos last week of crowds in China chanting in Mandarin, “Give me liberty or give me death.” It was a phrase the Brooklyn resident had last heard more than three decades ago, when she was one of the student leaders at the pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

It took her back to the afternoon of 3 June 1989, when she spotted military convoys rumbling toward the protest camp. She threw on a black outfit and rode her bike into the square, determined to defend it. But nothing could have prepared her for the massacre that followed in the early hours of 4 June as the soldiers started shooting and killing the young protesters, including one of her friends. She remembers climbing over a tank to survive.

“We wanted the Communist party to introduce democracy, but we didn’t want the Communist party to leave China,” Tang says. So today’s protests are “really the first time we’ve seen such a demand in public on such a large scale”….