In what he describes as ‘repressed Beijing’, Peter found that Generation Y in China has no memory or knowledge of Tiananmen Square. His translator Jianlan points out that she was only five when the incident occurred and that it is a ‘taboo’ topic in China. She has clearly not been taught about the Chinese Government’s brutal crackdown on student protesters in 1989, and, as Peter notes, the Chinese authorities do not allow their own people to use Facebook or Google to discover their own past or the present outside world. Control of the media, especially social media interactions with the outside world, goes some way to keeping their Gen Y in the dark about past (and almost certainly present) human rights abuses. The celebrated ‘Tank Man’ who attempted to block a phalanx of tanks clearing Tiananmen Square is a hero to millions of TV viewers and Internet users around the world but is unknown to Peter’s Chinese peers.
Accentuating the positive, Peter loved the food in Beijing and found the people very friendly. It still puzzles him however that while there seems to be a police presence everywhere, when huge fights broke out in the streets, no one would stop them. Peter was also surprised to discover that the American influence in Beijing is not dissimilar to what it is like in Budapest.