|Tang Baiqiao (Chinese: 唐柏桥)|
Tang Baiqiao (Chinese: 唐柏桥; born August, 1967; sometimes spelled Tang Boqiao) is a Chinese political dissident from Hunan province who led student protests during the 1989 democracy movement. After the incident at Tiananmen Square, Tang fled from agents of the Communist Party of China who eventually arrested him in the city of Jiangmen. He was charged with being a counter-revolutionary and imprisoned. Upon his release, he fled to Hong Kong, where he co-authored the report Anthems of Defeat: Crackdown in Hunan Province 1989 - 1992 through Human Rights Watch with Dr. Robin Munro of the University of London. Tang was later accepted into the United States as a political refugee in 1992. He graduated in 2003 with a Master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
Arrival in the U.S.
Tang arrived in the United States in April, 1992. In June of that year, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., he announced the existence of an underground group called the All-China People's Autonomous Federation. According to Tang, the Federation was, at that time, operating in the People's Republic of China, and consisted mostly of former students who had taken part in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Tang called himself the group's "overseas spokesman." He refused to cite specific members of the group for fear of reprisal by the Chinese Communist Party. The Federation's existence was corroborated by Dr. Robin Munro, who reportedly called the group "extensive and well organized."
Tang was also cited by officials of Asia Watch, a division of Human Rights Watch, for contributing the majority of research to a publication called Anthems of Defeat: Crackdown in Hunan Province 1989 - 1992. The book details some of the harshest punishments and human rights atrocities meted out by the CCP in the wake of Tiananmen Square. Among these were the plight of three Chinese dissidents sentenced up to life imprisonment for hurling paint at an image of Mao Zedong in connection with student protests during the 1989 democracy movement.
Since his escape from China, Tang Baiqiao has remained very active in the pro-democracy movement. In particular, he has called for a reassessment of China's human rights policies (including the number of actual casualties sustained in the Tiananmen Square massacre), an examination of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners worldewide, support for the Dalai Lama's efforts to negotiate change for Tibet, and an end to the Chinese Communist Party. As recently as 2007, Tang alleged that many Chinese Students and Scholars Associations are actually funded by, and function as spies for, the Chinese Communist Party
In an August 2009 interview with The Epoch Times: "I resist [CCP violence], not only for myself, but for all the dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners...all the people of this country [who wish] to be free, everyone has freedom of speech, [and should be able to] express their views."
Tang is a frequent on-air special commentator for New Tang Dynasty Television. He is a spokesman and officer for the China Interim Government. His articles have appeared in the Journal of International Affairs and Beijing Spring, among other publications.
Retrospective commentary on Tiananmen Square
In 1999, in an interview with Human Rights Watch, Tang stated that, "The 1989 democracy movement and the June 4 crackdown cut off any meaningful movement toward political change." Specifically, he said that public discussion related to political reforms were taking place before the Tiananmen Square protests. Tang noted that the reform efforts of Zhao Ziyang, Bao Tong, and Chen Yizi might well have prevailed had the crackdown never occurred. In essence, Tiananmen Square allowed CCP leaders such as Jiang Zemin to consolidate their power over the Party, the government, and the military.
In the same interview, Tang noted that corruption, not political reform, was the primary concern of student protestors. He pointed out that students also wished to see Hu Yaobang rehabilitated, as well as increased social benefits for intellectuals. Tang maintains that issues of democracy and human rights only emerged in the end stages of Tiananmen Square, and then somewhat tangentially. However, Tang notes that, due to the 1989 movement, the Chinese government has allowed greater economic, social, and cultural freedoms.
On July 6, 2009, Tang Baiqiao suffered an seemingly unprovoked assault by several men at a karaoke bar in Flushing, the Chinatown section of Queens. Tang suffered injuries to his face and hand. He maintains the assault was orchestrated and perpetrated by agents of the CCP, most likely in retaliation against statements he made in defense of Falun Gong practitioners, as well as his support for the Tuidang movement, which encourages renunciation of the Communist Party. However, Tang admitted his frustration that United States law enforcement were not convinced the attacks came from Communist sources. His claim has never been independently verified.
His version of events was supported by several New York leaders of the Chinese pro-democracy movement. Tang held a press conference at Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. on July 30, 2009. He denounced the attacks, and called them reminiscent of a similar event that occurred in 2008 where mobs of up to 600 people physically and verbally assaulted Falun Gong members volunteering at a neighborhood community action center.
Anthems of Defeat: Crackdown in Hunan Province 1989 - 1992, with Robin Munro (1991)
- School of Oriental and African Studies profile
- Yale Press
- New Tang Dynasty TV article
- http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/03/world/chinese-dissident-in-west-tells-of-underground-rights-network.html New York Times article; June 3, 1992
- http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/01/world/china-is-accused-of-torturing-3-who-defaced-mao-portrait.html New York Times Times article; June 1, 1992
- PolitInfo.com, 2004 article
- Students for a Free Tibet
- Queens Tribune
- http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/7-7-1/57149.html Epoch Times article
- The Epoch Times August, 2009 article
- China Support Network
- Human Rights Watch China: 10 Years After Tiananmen
- China Rights Forum, 2004
- Journal of International Affairs article
- Beijing Spring