[US to China and Taiwan 2014] Cassie Folk: Remembering History
Being in Beijing so close to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests on June 4, 1989 was interesting to say the least. I was watching CNN International on the first morning in Beijing and initially I was surprised that CNN was even offered on my TV. Then a story began about the Tiananmen Square anniversary, and the TV went black. Even though I knew the government censored certain events and full access to the outside world, I was still shocked that my TV screen was actually blacked out.
Throughout our stay in Beijing, we all commented on the military presence and after I returned home, my business colleagues who regularly travel to Beijing told me that the heavy military presence isn’t typical, but rather that the Chinese government was preparing for this anniversary.
Later on in our trip, we met with representatives from the US Embassy and we discussed a lot of issues in China, including censorship. They indicated that search words on the internet are blocked such as June 4th, 6/4/89, and Tiananmen Square. It is been reported that media outside of China has been banned from reporting on this event from inside the country. China is clearly trying to erase this portion of history, but I’m hopeful that in my lifetime we will see progress towards a transparent Chinese government that allows free speech.
Cassie Folk is a Senior Director of Government Relations for Reynolds American.