The Weight of Heavenly Peace

Freedom and Resistance since Tiananmen

In her new book, ‘the weight of Heavenly Peace, freedom and resistance since Tiananmen’ Catherine Vuylsteke deals with a number of crucial issues concerning the political and social evolution in China in the last two decades.

On the 4th of June 2009 it was exactly twenty years since the tanks of the Chinese army crushed the protest movement on Tiananmen Square. They not only killed over a thousand people but also dealt a fatal blow to the belief that Deng Xiaoping was a different leader than his predecessor and that his Four Modernizations would lead to accountability, good governance and transparency

What happened in the two decades since then? The regime which killed its own people is still in power, over a hundred so called counterrevolutionaries are to this day behind bars. The ‘Mothers of Tiananmen’ want to know what happened to their missing children. Tiananmen has been a pivotal moment in recent Chinese history: once more the people came to realize that politics is a dangerous game. The price that many paid for their political commitment is far too high. And so most Chinese chose to follow Deng’s advice: To get rich, he said, is glorious.

In ‘The Weight of Heavenly Peace’ Catherine Vuylsteke portrays thirteen men and women who paid dearly for their convictions and idealism. Through the stories of their lives and struggles, she deals with all issues that are high on the agenda now. In Washington she visits former student leaders from the Tiananmen Square, in New York she meets with falun gong-activists and lawyers from the civil rights movement who have spent years behind bars. She meets with journalists that were first censored and then threatened and also travels to the Tibetan community in exile in Dharamsala, to see what happened to the dream forty years fifty years after the Dalai Lama fled from Lhasa.

© Tim Dirven

© Tim Dirven