Repeating history?

Let us hope and pray the world is not about to witness something like what happened 30 years ago in Beijing. If it happens again, this time in Hong Kong, there will be absolutely nothing the United States or anyone else can do to stop it.

During late spring and early summer in 1989, an enormous pro-democracy protest took place in China. It was centered on Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing.

For a time, China’s communist leaders did nothing, hoping the demonstrators would lose interest and melt away. They did not. So in June, the People’s Liberation Army was ordered to put an end to the situation.

Among the most enduring images seared into the memories of many people is that of a man standing ramrod stiff in front of a column of PLA tanks at Tiananmen Square. Video shows the lead tank inch forward, then turn sharply in an attempt to get around the man. He steps in front of the armored vehicle, blocking it again. Finally, PLA troops took him into custody. What happened to him has never been revealed.

It is known that the PLA massacred hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the protesters.

Now, three decades later, the stage is set for a similar tragedy.

For several weeks, protesters by the tens of thousands have thronged the streets of Hong Kong, protesting plans by the government in Beijing to curb liberties in the former British colony. Police have been unable to control the protesters.

Earlier this week, there were reports a large contingent of PLA troops, some riding armored vehicles, was being sent to Hong Kong. Chinese authorities insist the movement is only part of a normal rotation of forces.

However, a major commanding some of the soldiers was heard to tell them, “The time for a true test has arrived!”

Soon, Beijing’s intent will be clear. Chinese leaders may have decided there is no reason not to employ the communist regime’s typical brutality in ending the Hong Kong protests. If so, we may be about to witness a repeat of what happened in Tiananmen Square.

Sadly, there will be nothing our country or any other can do to stop it, if the PLA moves against protesters. Use of military force in any way against the Chinese is unthinkable. The United States already is involved in a “trade war” with Beijing, so even use of economic sanctions may be limited.

But if the PLA makes the streets of Hong Kong red with blood, Americans and other freedom-loving people should do whatever they can to support the protesters. It may not be much, but there is a need for the free world to go on record against vicious totalitarianism, so that others in China are emboldened, perhaps, to demand their God-given liberties be respected.

By Patricia Older

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