The life of an old friend of mine is emblematic of the tragedy that has befallen China’s intelligentsia under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Zhao Fusan, a Chinese representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from 1985 to 1989, fled into exile after he gave a frank speech about the Tiananmen Square massacre at a UNESCO conference.
Zhao’s transformation, from being a willing tool in the CCP’s hands to suddenly becoming an opponent of the regime, is a widespread phenomenon in today’s China.
During the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre Zhao was a member of the Executive Board at UNESCO and the leader of a UNESCO delegation meeting in Paris.
After June 4, Zhao received two directly opposing pieces of information regarding the massacre. One was from his family, who confirmed their safety, but also reported on a neighbor’s death caused by a stray bullet. The other was from the Deng Xiaoping regime, which maintained that no one had died in the Tiananmen incident.
At the UNESCO meeting on June 9, the delegates were all shocked by the news of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the agenda was set aside to allow for discussion of the event.
The only Chinese among the representatives from around the world, Zhao uttered three sentences. He said he was shocked by the Tiananmen massacre, expressed his condolences to the victims, and said China’s history would be rewritten from that point on. These three statements made an impact.
Returning to the Chinese delegation’s residence after the meeting, Zhao noticed the people from the security department giving him questioning looks at the door. It made Zhao wonder whether he would be next in line to be taken back to Beijing. A Chinese diplomat to Cuba had been escorted to Beijing two days prior for speaking too frankly.
After the UN meeting on June 12, Zhao decided not to return to his residence but headed to his daughter’s home in Paris. From then on, he was in exile—on a road of no return.
For several months Zhao hid at an artist’s home in the German countryside, arranged by the French Cultural Exchange Center. Later he lived at another daughter’s home in Belgium. After more than a year, he went to teach at the University of Oklahoma in the United States.
Altogether, Zhao spent about 10 years in exile in France, Germany, Belgium, and the United States. He retired from the University of Oklahoma in 1999 and then went to live in Belgium where he married Chen Xiaose, a professor from Yale University.
Zhao’s father, Zhao Shike, was sent to the United States on a study program by Tsinghua University. After returning to China, he served as the principal of a Chinese vocational school.
Zhao Shike also participated in the CCP’s underground activities, and his four sons were active in the student movements before 1949. Later the family went through many painful experiences.
The eldest son, who became the director of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, was persecuted and committed suicide during the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 to 1976.
The second son, Zhao Zhongyu, was an engineer at a coal mine. He died while rescuing people in a mine accident.
Zhao Zhongyu’s father-in-law was an American professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, who was labeled an American spy during the Cultural Revolution. His daughter, Zhao Zhongyu’s wife, was implicated along with her father. She was tortured to the edge of sanity and later died from alcohol abuse and self-mutilation.
Servant of the CCP
Even though Zhao Fusan’s family history with the Communist Party was so painful, he played an important role for the CCP.
Zhao was director general of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in Beijing when I first met him. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement is controlled by the CCP and, in turn, controls the officially sanctioned expressions of Christianity in China.
Zhao gave the impression of being gentle and learned and quite familiar with the Christian faith and the Bible.
At that time, Chinese authorities invited foreign nongovernmental celebrities and religious figures. These individuals could be useful to the CCP, and they were offered free receptions, special treatment, and sightseeing tours.
Zhao was so qualified that foreign clergy were impressed with him. His receptions of foreign guests had a particularly good effect. However, he claimed he was not a member of the CCP; he had inherited his family’s religious beliefs and hence could not join the atheistic Communist Party.
A Chinese Tragedy
I found Zhao’s life experiences quite similar to mine. Under the propaganda from the CCP, so many passionate young people were deceived and willing to go through hell for it. We worked tirelessly for the CCP.
We even made the regime look good, against our conscience, becoming its willing tools. Under repeated rounds of lessons, we have gradually awakened to reality; myself included, it is the shared tragedy of our generation.
Zhao Fusan told me that his life of 86 years can be divided into two parts. The first 60 years he spent in pursuit of ideals, while in the past 26 years, he has dismantled the ideals.
“I’ve been diligent and conscientious all my life. But in the end, how could I justify such a mess of my life?” Zhao asked.
Yao Cong is a former researcher at the American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
This article is a translated, edited version of an exclusive submission to The Epoch Times.
Read the original Chinese article.
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