June 4th, 1989 is a day that will long be remembered in human history. Young Chinese protesters, mostly unarmed students, literally stood up to the crushing regime of Communism – and the world watched as freedom looked tyranny in the face.
The massacre of Tiananmen Square will forever be summed up in one memorable photograph of a young man facing a line of Chinese military tanks. Right versus might could not have been more perfectly portrayed.
By the time the protests were over, (rather, crushed by the Chinese government) hundreds had been killed and thousands were imprisoned on charges of "counterrevolution." Persecution of anyone who dares to challenge the state has continued, almost unabated, from that day to this.
To mark the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests, a hearing was held last week on Capitol Hill, featuring several Chinese dissidents and human rights activists who reported on the ongoing human rights abuses in that country.
Congressman Steve Stockman summed up the purpose of the hearing when he stated, "The people screaming for freedom in China represent one quarter of the world's population, and we turn our backs on them again and again."
In China, the anniversary was marked by blocking access on the Internet to words like "that year," "special day," and various combinations that refer to the Tiananmen Square protests. Chinese Communist authorities forbid open discussions of the "June 4th incident."
While the U.S. called for China to provide a full report of the crackdown in Beijing, the Communists called the American directive "political prejudice" and warned us to "stop interfering in China's internal affairs."
Despite the blustering from China, the hearing in Washington this week was truly remarkable. One of the witnesses was Chai Ling, a woman who was placed on China's Most Wanted list for her leading the protests in Tiananmen Square. She had my attention immediately when she began her testimony with the words:
"I am deeply honored to be given an opportunity to share a message of hope and redemption through Jesus on the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square tragedy and massacre."
Chia Ling shared how she fled China and came to America, spending twenty years trying to find truth behind the butchering in Beijing and hope for China. She tried Buddhism, pursued advance degrees, became a successful entrepreneur but did not find "hope and freedom until (she) came to know God through Jesus."
Ling also testified "out of the debris of the Tiananmen Square massacre, tens of millions of Jesus-believers in China have discovered the same truth that I have."
Some of the witnesses in the hearing shared about the need for China to accept the ideals of democracy, others extolled the virtues of the free enterprise system for real reformation. But Chia Ling's message was different. When she spoke, she gave glory to God and reminded everyone in the hearing room that the only way to real freedom for people everywhere is through Jesus.