Psy-ops warriors: Tiananmen Square and the media-pack

Tiananmen Square is the center of Beijing. August 2005

As a Hong Kong based columnist for much of his writing career Nury Vittachi was known for his persistent anti-Beijing slant. But no longer. What changed his mind was the mainstream media – the BBC in particular – coverage of the 2019 Hong Kong riots.

Praised as democracy seekers, these riots for the most part were no more than an outpouring of immature destructive student hatred for the society around them. As Vittachi admits himself it was when he saw the mainstream media glorification of these young thugs as oppressed fighters for democracy, that he realised something was wrong with the System. In his book published soon after, The Other Side of the Story, he asks how and why the System corrupts and controls media reportage, and not just in Hong Kong.

His searching for the other side of the mainstream media reporting has brought him to the Tiananmen Square. How could the media sustain the myth of massacre when so many in the Square at the time said they saw no massacre. About the only thing they did get to see were solders quietly leading students to leave the Square when the chaos outside ended.

And when he looked at the chaos he began to see the same UK and US black hands working behind the scenes as he had seen in Hong Kong. In his powerful psy-ops article he pulls together what most of what us myth critics have been saying over the years, and admits how for decades he was deceived by the myth makers.

But he goes further than most by being able to name and shame the myth makers. At the end of his piece he is able to tell us how in Hong Kong: “Colonel Bob Helvey used to recall how his friend and colleague Gene Sharp, master of media manipulation, used to begin his talks: “My name is Gene Sharp, and we’re here today to discuss how to seize political power and deny it to others.”

Just that quote alone tells us all we need to know about the evil driving the System, and the stupidity/corruption of the media that failed to tells us what was going on under their collective noses.

But even as he writes Vittachi leaves us with the question: why did it take so long for even this gifted writer to discover the Tiananmen reality? Soon after the June 4-5, 1989, events one had only to search records to discover photos which alone proved that it was the sadistic brutality of the thugs among the protesters that had had driven the PLA soldiers into revenge action.

One showed badly burned soldiers writhing in agony on the steps of a crowded Beijing overpass, with the charred corpse of a soldier swinging above the traffic. Another showed the mutilated corpse of a badly burned soldier strung up by the window of burned out bus. Those photos could not have been faked. So why were we supposed to believe it was the regime, and not the thugs, who were at fault?

As revealing were the photos of lines of burned out buses and other military vehicles destroyed June 3 by Molotov cocktails carrying soldiers to assembly stations. Where did the students get those weapons never before used in Chinese protests? How did they get them to their targets while protesting in the Square?

Officialdom confirms some of the atrocities. A US Embassy report for June 4 notes the mid-city overpass killings.

“One charred corpse is strung up from an underpass over a busy intersection crowded with shoppers.”

The same report source continues:

“the beating to death of a PLA soldier, who was in the first APC to enter Tiananmen Square, in full view of the other waiting PLA soldiers, appeared to have sparked the shooting that followed.”

So there was some fighting in the Square but it was the protestors, not the government soldiers, that started the bloody confrontation and it was limited.

State Department chroniclers give an unbiased summary of events:

“.. the initial moves against the students suggested to many that the Chinese leadership was still, as of the morning of June 3, committed to a relatively peaceful resolution to the crisis.”

From there we go to:

“fascinating eyewitness accounts of the disorganised and confused retreat of PLA soldiers from the centre of Beijing after their advance on Tiananmen Square was halted by crowds of demonstrators on the morning of June 3.’ ..the soldiers were ridiculed by Chinese citizens and scolded by elderly women who called them “bad boys” and “a disgrace to the PLA.”

On the day after, on June 4, however: “thousands of civilians stood their ground or swarmed around military vehicles. APCs were set on fire, and demonstrators besieged troops with rocks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails.”

Media reports confirmed this protestor violence.

According to the Wall Street Journal of June 4:

“As columns of tanks and tens of thousands soldiers approached Tiananmen many troops were set on by angry mobs … [D]ozens of soldiers were pulled from trucks, severely beaten and left for dead. At an intersection west of the square, the body of a young soldier, who had been beaten to death, was stripped naked and hung from the side of a bus. Another soldier’s corpse was strung at an intersection east of the square.”

Clearly mass violence of the night of June 3-4 had done something to inflame the situation and I suggest it was the media-ignored burning of the troop-carrying buses. The much-publicised shootings of civilians the next day were the not-unexpected revenge.

As the fighting around the square died down the world was left wondering what had happened and how. But on June 12, days later, the NYT came out with blaring front-page headlines: TURMOIL IN CHINA; Student Tells the Tiananmen Story: And Then, ‘Machine Guns Erupted.’

And then followed with a story so naive, so distorted, that it would not even pass a junior journalism class. It claimed, for example: The first thing that the charging (government) soldiers did was to erect a row of 10 or more machine guns right in front of the Heroes Monument.

Somehow the large numbers of foreign correspondents and TV cameras in the Square that night were supposed to have failed completely to notice this rather dramatic event.

The rest of the story is even worse. As for its source, the paper could only say it was taken from a Hong Kong newspaper, Wen Wei Po, which had published what it described as a firsthand account of the assault, given by a 20-year-old student at Qinghua University, whose identity the paper withheld.

Wen Wei Po was a weak Hong Kong newspaper known at the time for extreme anti-Beijing positions. The student source remans totally unknown, to this day.

Yet this obviously dubious account of events went around a waiting world relying on NYT prestige to consolidate the Tiananmen Square massacre myth.

The New York Times’ own correspondent at Tiananmen, Nicholas Kristof, felt obliged to refute the story, item by item, in his paper the very next day. But it was relegated to page 8 and not properly published. To this day the NYT stands by its June 12 version.

The New York Times continues its anti-China vendetta. It repeatedly plays up the popular Tankman photo, despite the fact that one of the men credited with the iconic photo of an anonymous shopper halting a row tanks, AP photographer, Jeff Widener, insists the tanks were leaving, not headed for, Tiananmen Square and it was on the day after Tiananmen events anyway, June 5.

Perhaps the strangest of the NYT mistakes was a February 2020 edition which front-paged the much-used Chinese (and Japanese) characters for 規則 (Gui-ze) meaning ‘rules’ or ‘regulations’ as in ‘rules of the road’. These, it said bizarrely, represented China’s goal for world domination.

To anyone who knows Chinese it was a mistake on a par with saying a road sign ‘Keep to the Left’ was an invitation to communism.The newspaper which rushes to correct even the slightest mistake in its articles refuses pointblank to accept any correction to its blatantly incorrect anti-China material.

Later we got the excellent essay by the Washington Times correspondent, Jay Matthews, present at Tiananmen events and published in the Columbia Journalism Review of 1998 under the heading: The Myth of Tiananmen, and the Price of a Passive Press. That set the record right for a while.

Now we have the BBC, which in 2015 had warned us of the danger of Ukraines’ neoNazi brigades and had shown Donbas civilians turning back Kiev’s military intrusions with bare hands, flip-flopping to exclusively pro-Kiev news. The rest of the media-pack have followed suit, with Germany now threatening severe punishments for anyone reporting from the other side.

The psy-ops warriors are at it again, with a vengeance, and this time they are not just Anglo-Saxons.