China events interpreted

By Galvin Kennedy

Although the crackdown on Chinese students by a communistic government diminished any hope of a peaceful movement toward democracy, the idea of a democratic China remains a possibility, said NIU political scientist Brantly Womack in a lecture Tuesday night.

Womack, a specialist in the politics of contemporary China, lectured along with two NIU graduate students to a crowd of about 40 people at the Holmes Student Center. The discussion addressed specific happenings in China in regards to student demonstrations as well as some popular interpretations of the events and their flaws.

“What has happened can best be described in three overlapping categories—spontaneity, confrontation and repression,” Womack said, establishing part of his outline for the lecture.

Womack introduced the official interpretation of the student demonstrations as one that views the martial law action by the government as a “required” remedy for the student disturbances.

The totalitarian interpretation, which Womack said is held by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, views communism as an unstable economic system and hence events like the recent one in China are likely to exist.

Womack said interpretations of the events are similar in that they both claim the incidents were inevitable and had to be against the Communist Party.

Gongmin Mu and Yuhang Shi, graduate students in NIU’s political science, also contributed to the discussion by answering questions from the audience and delivering prepared speeches.

A member of the audience asked why demonstrators sang the International, a pro-party anthem, at the anti-party demonstrations. “When the students sang the International, they were using it as a tactic to hopefully avoid violence. Besides, the first sentence of the International reads, ‘Stand up those who don’t want be slaves,'” Mu said.