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Academic
and former Australian diplomat Gregory Clark has done a fine job over the years of exposing the shallow historical contrivances of Japanese rightwingers, including the notion that comfort women were volunteers and that the 1937 Nanjing Massacre was just the invention of Chinese propagandists.

So it was with some surprise that I read his July 21 article, “Birth of a massacre myth,” which asserts that no “massacre” (i.e., deliberate killing) of students and other civilians by the Chinese army occurred in Beijing the night of June 3-4, 1989.

Most sources state that between a few hundred to several thousand were killed when Chinese Communist Party elders headed by Deng Xiaoping decided to crush the student and worker movement with armed force. Clark’s article reminds me of statements made by Burma’s former chief of Military Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, who claimed that 1988 reports of Burmese soldiers shooting thousands of protesters in the streets of Rangoon were the fabrication of the foreign media, especially the British Broadcasting Corporation.

China’s ruling elite has over the years combined domestic repression with a foreign policy of stunning immorality — supporting the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, the military junta in Burma and the genocidal rulers of Sudan. Clark is concerned that talk of the Tiananmen Massacre will ruin the happy atmosphere of the Beijing Olympics. But is attending the Olympics in a spirit of uncritical China-worship any better than paying a visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15?

donald m. seekins