Few can say they’ve survived a run-in with a tank, but this man can—and he refuses to be silenced on what happened to him during the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Fang Zheng used to have legs 29 years ago. Today he’s a double amputee and gets around in a wheelchair. He’s lucky to be alive.
On June 4, 1989, at around 6 a.m. Zheng was withdrawing from Tiananmen Square in Beijing with his university classmates, when they were ambushed by tanks. Smoke bombs were thrown their way to obscure their vision.
“They charged us directly from behind and killed many people on Chang’an Avenue, creating a huge tragedy,” Zheng, 51, told China Uncensored host Chris Chappell on June 4, the Massacre’s 29th anniversary.
Zheng noticed a girl faint due to the smoke attack. He tried to help her when a tank quickly appeared to crush the both of them. Zheng pushed the girl to the side and saved her. However, he had no time to run.
“The last thing I remember is seeing the white of my bone sticking out of my leg,” he said. “That was the last image before I lost consciousness.”
As a student at Beijing Sport University, he and his classmates had gone to Tiananmen Square to appeal for freedom, and to call for an end to corruption in the Chinese regime.
It was soon revealed the regime is not in favor of the people.
“When faced with the will of the people, they chose to use military repression and bloodshed.”
The students’ wish was not only rejected, but buried by censorship and propaganda. Though most people in China today don’t know the extent of the bloodshed, reportsconfirm at least 10,000 deaths.
“Many young people barely know anything about what happened back then.”
As an athlete, Zheng wanted to participate in international sports competitions for the disabled, but his rights were stripped by the Communist Party, for fear his story would get out. He was even denied a passport to leave the country.
By the 2008 Beijing Olympics, foreign journalists were keen to interview Zheng. Before the arrival of a German journalist, the Public Security Bureau told him they knew of the upcoming interview—most likely because they tapped his or the journalist’s phone—and told Zheng that if he declined the interview and didn’t introduce the journalist to other victims of the Massacre to interview, they’d issue him a passport.
Zheng complied, and was finally afforded a passport on Aug. 28, 2008. With help from the U.S. government, he and his family immigrated to the United States.
The journalist ended up publishing a report on his arrival back in Germany about Zheng’s predicament and why he turned down the interview.
When the Tiananmen Square Massacre comes to mind, many people think of Tank Man, but to Zheng, that represents one part only. The reality was, most tanks did not stop.
“I hope everyone can remember this,” he said, adding he knows of 11 people who were crushed to death, with still others injured like himself.
“For the students like me who had been injured, the first thing they [the Party] wanted was for us to shut up. They didn’t want us to tell other people.”
“They even put a lot of pressure on the young woman who I rescued, until she was afraid to see me, and she denied the fact that we were together when the tanks came.”
But he knew he couldn’t remain silent on this state-approved mass murder of citizens. For telling the truth, he was arrested, his home was ransacked by police, he was unable to get a job, and he had restricted freedom until he finally obtained a passport to flee.
“The Chinese government has all the power. If you don’t come to terms with them, they’ll stop you from going to college, from graduating, you can’t get a job, you’ll have no income, or they’ll put all sorts of pressure on your family members.”
A similar but more concerning plight has befallen the nation’s Falun Gong practitioners, who are subject to forced organ harvesting at the hands of the State.
Falun Gong is a free-of-charge system of meditative exercises and moral teachings based on Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. The healthy practice became so popular in China that former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin sought to eliminate it.
Much like how China’s Cisco-built firewall has successfully censored all truth about the Tiananman Square Massacre, the keywords Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, are also highly censored. What results are yielded is nothing but slanderous propaganda, manufactured by the propaganda department to further confuse the Chinese people, and incite hatred toward the harmless practice.
Just like how Zheng suffered for telling people the truth about the Massacre, Falun Gong practitioners too are harassed. Moreover, they are even jailed, tortured, and killed for speaking to people about the truth of the Communist Party’s persecution.
“The price of telling the truth in China is still quite high, that is the current reality,” confirms Zheng.
Zheng hopes that a good system replaces the Chinese Communist Party, but argues that it won’t happen until more people stand up to expose the regime’s crimes against humanity and break through the propaganda, brainwashing, and thought control.
To learn about the darkest, lesser-known facts of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, click here.
Watch Zheng’s interview below: