I think these may be my last words. My name is Chai Ling. I am twenty-three
years old. My home is in Shandong Province. I entered Beijing University
in 1983 and majored in psychology. I began my graduate studies at Beijing
Normal University in 1987. By coincidence, my birthday is April 15, the
day Hu Yaobang died.
The situation has become so dangerous. The students asked me what we
were going to do next. I wanted to tell them that we were expecting bloodshed,
that it would take a massacre, which would spill blood like a river through
Tiananmen Square, to awaken the people. But how could I tell them this?
How could I tell them that their lives would have to be sacrificed in
order to win?
If we withdraw from the square, the government will kill us anyway and
purge those who supported us. If we let them win, thousands would perish,
and seventy years of achievement would be wasted. Who knows how long
it would be before the movement could rise again? The government has
so many means of repression — execution, isolation. They can wear you
down and that's exactly what they did to Wei Jingsheng.
I love those kids out there so much. But I feel so helpless. How can
I change the world? I am only one person. I never wanted any power. But
my conscience will not permit me to surrender my power to traitors and
schemers. I want to scream at Chinese people everywhere that we are so
miserable! We should not kill each other anymore! Our chances are too
slim as it is.
I was extremely sad because, once again, I saw all kinds of people trying
to betray us and put an end to this movement. At the start of the hunger
strike there were about a thousand students participating, ruining their
health. It infuriates me to think that there are people who want to ruin
what these 1,000 — and later several thousand — students are risking
their lives for.
Within the intellectual circle, however, two supportive friends suggested
that we call things off and take on another duty, like writing a book
to be entitled Let the Whole World Know. They also said that if this
book were circulated, the world would be told exactly what was going
on. Then we could be satisfied at the sight of our execution.
I had a conversation with a plainclothes cop on April 25. I asked him
what the sentence was for counter-revolutionary activities. He said that
it used to be three to five years, but now it is seventeen. I'd be forty
after seventeen years in prison. I'm really not willing to do that.
Yesterday I told my husband that I was no longer willing to stay in
China. I realize that many students won't understand why I'm withdrawing
from this movement and I will probably be criticized for this. But I
hope that while I can no longer continue with this work there will be
others who can. Democracy isn't the result of just one person's efforts.
During the hunger strike I had said that we were not fighting so that
we could die but so that we could live. I was fighting for life, because
democracy cannot be accomplished by a single generation. Now I'm even
more convinced of this. If I don't die, I vow to teach my child, from
the day he is born, to grow up to be an honest, kind, fair, and independent
We were striving for rights, and I felt like telling everyone, including
undercover police and soldiers, that the rights that the students were
risking their lives for were also for them. I would be ashamed to enjoy
the benefits of these rights we are struggling for if I had never participated
in this movement.
I have felt depressed many times. Some of the students have such a poor
understanding of democracy. On the day that I suggested the hunger strike,
I knew in the back of my mind that it would be futile. There are certain
people and certain events in history that are destined to fail. In spite
of all this, I have always tried to come across as a strong role model
for the students and let them know that some day we will win.
I believe that democracy is a natural desire. It should guarantee human
rights and independence, and foster self-respect — all of which people
are entitled to.
Unfortunately, the basic human instinct for independence has been greatly
inhibited and degraded among the Chinese. Some out-of-town students even
came to us, asking for food, lodging, and instructions for what to do
next. I thought, they have hands, eyes, their own minds; they can take
care of themselves. They are supporting a very good cause but, honestly,
many of these students are irresponsible; they are accustomed to living
in a feudal society in which they do not have to make decisions for themselves.
The square is our last stand. If we lose it, China will retreat into
another dark age, the people will once again turn against one other,
with no real feelings or communication between them. If a nation's own
people don't stay and help it to grow and develop, who will? But I will
not be there to protect the square because I'm different from the others:
my name is on the blacklist. I don't want to die.
Before this movement, I dreamt about going abroad — to study psychology
— but friends warned me not to think of America as a paradise. They said
that there are a lot of overseas Chinese there and that their competitive
instincts were overwhelming. I want to say to all those Chinese outside
of China, those who already have freedom and democracy, and who have
never had their lives endangered, to stand up and unite, to put an end
to the fighting among us. There are so many kids here risking their own
lives for what you have. Do what you can, break down the barriers and
don't be selfish anymore. Think about our race. One billion people can't
just fade away.
— Chai Ling (b. 1966)