Gregory Clark made excellent points about the misuse of the word “massacre” in relation to the Tiananmen Square carnage in 1989. But some of his observations reveal his partiality. Clark makes a case for bias in the Western media by focusing on unsubstantiated reports that up to 3,000 student protesters were killed. Yet, an Internet search shows that most reporting on the incident, both past and present, makes note that the number of deaths is widely in dispute and likely 400 to 800.
Clark states that “we see little photo support for the other side of the story.” He ignores a piece by the New York Times’ Nicholas D. Kristof. Clark must have read it, because he cites it, reporting that Chinese authorities “described the deaths of only nine soldiers and two policemen.” Eleven military deaths hardly constitutes another side of the story, even if the civilian deaths were on the low end of the estimate.
China is ultimately responsible for any misrepresentation of the Tiananmen events. If China had allowed media to cover freely its political and social affairs, journalists would have been able to report eyewitness accounts rather than file hearsay from the confines of hotel rooms. Had the Chinese released the names of the dead students and not rushed to dispose of the bodies, Clark would not have had an article about the matter to write today.
What really irked me was Clark’s final statement that “damage from the Tiananmen myth” resulted in Western countries refusing to sell “riot-control equipment” to Beijing. China has a space program and a nuclear arsenal. They can afford to make their own damn riot-control equipment!