Immediately following the June 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing, students from Brigham Young University joined the movement toward democracy in China.
BYU's Hong Kong Club began to sell T-shirts commemorating the incident, to raise money and help people would become more aware of what happened.Eric Hyer, BYU political science professor who specializes in China, said, "The students originally wanted to raise the money to send to China to support the democratic movement."
But they weren't sure how the money would be distributed, he said. Instead, they decided to see what they could do to increase public awareness in the United States and especially at BYU.
So, with the money gathered from T-shirt sales for the past two years, the Hong Kong Club was able to sponsor a visit from Liu Binyan, one of China's most prominent journalists.
On Wednesday afternoon, Liu spoke to a near-capacity crowd in BYU's Varsity Theater about his experiences and his "higher loyalty," referring to personal ideals instead of government-imposed ones.
Liu, who was purged from China's Communist Party in 1987 because of articles he had written about party corruption, said the Chinese Communist Party is different from other Communist parties around the world.
"This is because it has been through 25 years of war," he said through his wife, who was translating for him.
It reached the point where the Chinese wore only two drab colors, Liu said. Women could not wear makeup or high heels or have perms.
But, at the same time, the government is afraid of the Chinese people.
"I have worked with five different Chinese governments," said Liu, who now lives in exile in the United States, where is in residence at Princeton University. "But I have never seen a government that is as afraid of its people as this one is now."
Liu said he is grateful for the help the Chinese have received in their journey toward democracy, but they must gain freedom for themselves.
"The (June 1989) crackdown made the people even more courageous," he said. The government lost its credibility.
According to Liu, 80 percent of the government officials supported the 1989 student movements and there has also been a large increase in the number of underground movements.
"We can even see progress in the past week," he said. Two men with moderate (as opposed to hard-core communist) philosophies were appointed as vice premiers.
The Chinese do not have a democratic tradition and that may be a drawback, but Liu said his people know democracy and they know what they want, and they will work for it.