June 4, 2009 is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre.  For those of us who either witnessed it in person or through television and news report, what happened have left an indelible memory.  When reporters went with President Nixon to China in 1972, they dutifully reported on how the Chinese people celebrated the Chinese Communist Party as if the Chinese were merely ants willingly give of themselves to the glorification of the State.  The pro-democracy movement in the spring of 1989 found the Chinese people discovering their courage to tell the truth of how they really felt about their government and shattered the myth so fervently believed by so many westerners - that the utopia of communism can be found in the Chinese people for these westerners wanted to believe that the Chinese are different from you and I.
       Perhaps no westerner has been more influential in perpetuating such a myth than Edgar Snow, who visited China during the height of the Great Famine and reported that there was no famine.  In fact, over 30 million people died during the famine of 1958-1962; it was the biggest man-made famine in the history of mankind.  Edgar Snow did not live to see the 1989 pro-democracy movement but his widow did.  When his widow tried to visit Ding Zilin, the founder of Tianamen Mothers, in 2000, she was prevented from doing so.  It was only when she found herself being treated like a suspected dissident, that Mrs. Snow finally stopped being a collaborator of the myth.
       The blood of Tiananmen became a salvation for the people in Eastern Europe.  For on July 7, 1989, in the Romanian capital Bucharest, Gorbachev signaled to the Eastern bloc leaders that the Soviet Union would not use force to interfere with reform.  Aware of worldwide condemnation of the PRC, Gorbachev did not want another Tiananmen massacre.
       Just as the Tiananmen students began by asking for an end to corruption, the demonstrators in East Germany asked for the freedom to travel.  The Tiananmen students showed the world the power of peaceful demonstration and the citizens of the Eastern bloc took notice.  By November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell.
       We remember the dream, we remember the hope, we remember that time in the Spring of 1989 when the Chinese people, led by the students gave each other a gift, the gift of freedom, the freedom from fear.
       May the memories of Tiananmen Spring live and will one day flourish.
       Ann Lau 
       Chair, Visual Artists Guild