Before the Berlin Wall was torn down, there were more Chinese who knew about the wall that than Russians. The Chinese Communist Party had a big fight with the Communist Parties of the former USSR and Eastern Europe, so all the newspapers in China were taking their opportunities to scold those Communist countries, as well as to examine the "dark side" of these countries with a magnifying glass. That was the only opportunity for the Chinese journalists to criticize the Communist Party in those days -- to talk about the dark side in China would land them in jail, but to help the Chinese Communist Party scold the former USSR was legitimate. So even Josip Broz Tito of the former Yugoslavia Communist Party and Palmiro Togliatti of the Italian Communist Party were all well-known in the Chinese media then. The Chinese people learned about the Berlin Wall even since.
In my working unit, there was an old worker who never read newspapers. When several of us young men were discussing the Berlin Wall, he suddenly said: "Is not that just like the Taiwan Strait?" All of us were suddenly stunned: why didn't we think of such a suitable analogy? Immediately, one of us teased him: no wonder the Communist Party sent you to the countryside as an "anti-revolutionist", your statement is so clear that it entitles you to be the "anti-revolutionist". After that, we started to discuss the similarity and differences between the Berlin Wall and the Taiwan Strait. The more discussion, the more convinced we were that the comment by that old worker was very accurate. We even discussed the 38th Parallel in Korea and 17th Parallel in Vietnam. Because of the rule of the Communist System, each of these 4 nations were divided into two.
The Communist system is a system against human nature. This fact is not only publically acknowledged, but also what the Communist Party itself repeatedly emphasized. Before the Communist Party took power, people were very easily cheated by its beautiful promises. However, under the rule of the Communist Party, people soon could not tolerate anymore and opposition began to happen. But most people do not have enough courage to oppose, and instead they choose to escape. In all the countries ruled by the Communist Party, there were endless tides of escape. To prevent its own labor force from running away to the free world, the Berlin Wall was essentially needed for the Communism.
I remember a popular Russian novel I read during my middle school years, of how the border guards were trying to prevent people from crossing the border by a river runs through the two countries. After I read the map, I could hardly comprehend why people would try to run across the border to another country which was also a member of the East Block of the USSR clique. Only after I grew up did I realize that even that tiny freedom of Eastern Europe created a great attraction to the people of the former USSR. Without the stern guard by the border military, the USSR could not stop the massive escape of its slaves. Only those people who have lost their freedom could most comprehend the great attraction of freedom to the people.
The biggest difference between the Taiwan Strait and the Berlin Wall is that one cannot take only a few minutes of risk to go over to the other side. The more than 100 kilometer strait is beyond people's physical limitation, yet it still could not prevent the tide of fleeing people. Although there were very few people who could flee in an airplane, the Chinese military was still extremely careful to control the amount of fuel in airplanes to ensure they could not reach any "hostile countries", including the former USSR, North Korea and Vietnam. It had to spend a great effort to prevent the attraction of freedom.
Even so, the Chinese Communist Party still could not completely block people fleeing from the dictatorial rule. The narrow border river of the Hong Kong territory became the sacred place for many youths who would risk their lives. At the beginning, some people used tires as lifesavers to cross the river. Many people copied this action after some people succeeded. So the Chinese border military fired on the tires to prevent these people's flight. Then people used sack bags filled with Ping Pong balls. So the border military had no choice but to increase the number of patrols. That tiny river bordering Hong Kong became the area with the highest density of the border military. There were people who also tried to reach Hong Kong from the sea, and became food for the sharks. Yet, the attraction of freedom won over the teeth of the sharks, so that the decades of fleeing could not be stopped. This proves an old Chinese proverb: tyranny is crueler than tigers. To run away from the rule of tyranny, to pursue freedom and liberty, is the natural tendency of the human race.
When the news of the collapse of the Berlin Wall spread all over the world, we the Chinese were in the middle of discouragement after the failure of a collective effort in pursuing freedom and liberty. The Chinese students and citizens took even braver action that gathering under the Berlin Wall. They used their bodies of blood and flesh, in an effort to tear down the Chinese Berlin Wall. Yet, with the massacre on June 4, 1989, by the Chinese Communist Party's tanks and machine guns, we failed. After we picked up the bodies of our comrades, with tears in our eyes, the Chinese people blessed the freedom and liberty that the people of East Germany and Eastern Europe had gained. In this disheartening situation for the Chinese people, the victory of the East Europeans was like a campfire in the dark; it gave us hope and encouragement. Many of us were reciting a well-known actor's line in a movie: Eliminate Fascism, Liberty Belongs to the People.
Published on November 10, 2009 by Liberal of Fondazione Liberal of Italy.