Ignorant and indifferent

MS TRACY Chu Xi was only two months old when the crackdown at Tiananmen Square erupted.

Now 25, she says her parents, natives of Shaanxi province, would only say that was a "nationwide political incident". So, when it comes to liusi, which refers to the June 4, 1989, crackdown, Ms Chu admits she has very little knowledge about it.

She only knows there was a "campus upheaval", and that it was a very chaotic time in Chinese society. These bits of information came from what she read online since Chinese history books make no mention of liusi. The primary school teacher, who lives in Xi'an, sees nothing wrong with the information gap.

"Our education system did not write this into history," she said.

"It did not happen during our lifetime, so it is not important to us," she added, her words reflecting a general lack of desire among young Chinese to find out more.

Asked why her parents did not tell her more about the incident or if she felt that they should have, she replied with a Chinese proverb tanhu sebian - mere mention of a tiger makes one turn pale.

"Our parents' generation experienced so many political problems, one more or one less does not make a difference," she said.

As for whether her own generation has the same fear of learning and talking about liusi, Ms Chu says the proverbial tiger has faded into lore for them.

She believes 25 years in a country that has developed at China's breakneck pace is a long time.

"It is not important enough for us to be afraid of talking about it," she said.


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