Tiananmen Square became a household word here
because of the student discontent around the beginning of June 1989.
Although the tragic event occurred a
generation ago, tourists who now visit
Beijing still link the scenes of tanks
and bloodshed with this historic site.
The portrait of Mao still gazes down on the
square as the nation continues to adhere to
some of his teachings.
I was in Savannah during that period of
I was the President of the Chinese Benevolent Association, an ethnic organization serving
the interests of all Chinese, regardless of
their political views.
We had a cohesive group, comprising of first,
second, and third generation Chinese.
The second or third generation Chinese no
longer knew the language except some broken
Chinese probably grinded into their daily
life, but they had devotion and dedication to
support this organization.
Most of them were shop owners.
In fact, they were the most loyal and
hardworking in our organization.
Often volunteering to do chores the younger generation made excuses to avoid.
The first generation Chinese were immigrants
The first generation Chinese were people
like myself, who originally came here as a
Most of them were from Taiwan and had settled
down in Savannah because of their jobs.
The newcomers came mostly from China mainland
after the open door policy.
They wanted to have a good time with other
Chinese but shirked from the mundane tasks
and financial responsibilities that came
with our organization.
Sometimes, when conflict of interests and
arguments arose, it required my diplomatic
tact to quell the tense moments.
On the Tiananmen issue, though, there was no controversy among us.
I was able to air the Chinese Benevolent Association's opinion on local television news.
Of course, we were with the students all the way.
We were glued to the television sets everyday
that month, hoping for a miracle to happen.
In the end, we were dejected and disappointed
at the brutal handling of the event by the regime.
Americans were enraged.
Everyday, the front page of the newspaper
detailed the aftermath of the massacre.
Just when everyone's motion was at its peak,
a container ship carrying a married couple
of Chinese descent landed in Savannah.
They were stow-aways without any documentation.
They had hid in a ship compartment when it left Hongkong.
Several days after debarkation, they had appeared before the ship crew begging for food.
Since Savannah was the ship's first port of
call, the captain dutifully handed them over
to the U.S. immigration officers here.