|(June 4, 2020, 2:05 p.m.) -- Especially this year -- when we note the importance of our rights to speak out and report -- LBREPORT.com recalls the action of a courageous Chinese radio journalist 31 years ago on June 3, 1989 at 9 p.m. PDT [June 4 noon Beijing time.] In our opinion, he was the audio counterpart to the visually iconic Tiananmen Square "Tankman."
Hours earlier, much of the world had seen the regime's violent suppresion of its citizens' call for democracy. I was interested to hear how that one-Party state would try to justify its actions. This was before the internet era, leaving one to rely on old school shortwave radio.
I used a radio with a shortwave band, hooked up to wire strung across the ceiling, to pick up Radio Beijing's nightly English language broadcast beamed to North America. I connected the radio's earphone output to a small magnetic tape cassette recorder. I had no idea I would capture a broadacast that turned out to become historically significant.
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Two weeks earlier, the regime had placed Beijing under martial law, after large crowds assembled, built a homegrown "Goddess of Democracy" and began quoting Thomas Jefferson instead of Mao Zedong. On the night of June 3 and lasting until dawn June 4, 1989, armed troops rolled into Tiananmen Square, tore down the Goddess of Democracy and some shot, wounded and killed those who resisted or got in their way.
Try to imagine what the Radio Beijing broadcaster must have thought as he delivered the words you'll hear below.
As you listen to the audio, remember that a shortwave radio signal bounces off the ionosphere and is refracted back to Earth on irregular paths that sometime cancel and cause phase distortion and signal drops. What you'll hear is exactly what we heard in the 25 meter shortwave band that night in a southern suburb near Los Angeles.
This is Radio Beijing. Please remember June the third, 1989. The most tragic event happened in the Chinese capital, Beijing.
Like the Tiananmen "Tankman," this man's identity and fate remain uncertain. We've seen multiple conflicting accounts as to who he is and what happened to him.
Thirty one years later, we urge journalists worldwide to remember him, to learn his name [reports differ], find out what happened to him [reports also differ] and if he is alive to speak with him and credit him for his principled action.
And yes, especially this year, when we have more reasons than usual to grasp the importance of our rights to speak out.
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