A Dream of a Free China

McPHERSON SQUARE—A few blocks north of the Smithsonian sits a lesser-known but worthwhile detour for District of Columbia residents and visitors alike: the Victims of Communism Museum. The collections, which opened to the public in June, honor the millions of people who have died at the hands of Communist regimes. 

Last week, one of the ideology’s most vocal opponents took the time to walk me through a temporary exhibit on the Tiananmen Square protests and the massacre that brought them to an end. 

In the years since Zhou Fengsuo first took to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square as a student organizer, he has dedicated his life to preserving the memory of an event that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would rather see wiped from the historical record. Over the course of more than six weeks in 1989, people in cities across China made a forceful call for democratic and economic reform through mass demonstrations. At the protests’ peak, an estimated 1 million people occupied the square. 

“It was just spontaneous, like an eruption of a volcano. People’s true will was repressed so deep, for so long, that all of a sudden it had to come to the surface. We were all surprised,” Zhou said. “All of a sudden, we all realized that our opinion was not isolated, was not the minority. It was the true hope for change.” 

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