In 1989, student-led protests in Tian’an Men Square were brutally crushed by the Chinese military. Conservative Premier Li Peng was an enthusiastic proponent of the draconian and murderous crackdown, and has since used the anniversary of the massacre as an occasion to implement new “State Security” regulations designed to further crack down on dissent.
The overseas edition of China’s Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily featured the following poem in March of 1991:
A sparrow hawk spreads its wings, unfolding a bright future.
The moon reflects in the sea, bringing hot tears.
A traveler ascends a tower, remembering his home.
I shall not fail to live up to lifelong aspirations to serve my country.
The people who raised me are more valuable than 10,000 pieces of gold.
We must do all we can to catch up and reinvigorate China.
We wait for spring to spread across this sacred land.
The patriotic and homesick poem, written by a grad student from Los Angeles under the pen name of Zhu Haihong, was also a qianzi shi or “inlaid-character poem.” Reading diagonally from upper right to lower left gives a different interpretation:
|Li Peng must step down to appease the people’s anger!|
Li Peng, at a press conference, called the poem “a small matter, not worth considering.” But rumor has it that at least one editor and one reporter for the People’s Daily have lost their jobs over the incident.
|snig·gle (v) — To fish for eels by thrusting a baited hook into their hiding places.|