Catherine Wang

Catherine Wang is a writer in Beijing

Posts by Catherine Wang

Children of Tiananmen

Coming to terms with 1989 as a young Chinese – by Catherine Wang


For a long time, the only significance 1989 held for me was that it was the year when I was born, in the coastal city of Tianjin. By the time I went to university, I had heard about the other thing that happened that same spring. The term used for it when I grew up was not “June 4th”, let alone “Tiananmen square massacre”, but more simply “the student riot”.

“When did our youngest son get married again?” my grandfather would ask my grandmother, when he was flicking through the family photo album.

“The year of the student riot,” grandmother would reply, as if it was just another incident to mark the passage of time.

As a child, I didn’t take it too seriously either.