Tiananmen massacre: former comrades accuse student leader of treason
by John Ai

Xiong Yan allegedly sided with the Chinese authorities, who were responsible for repressing the democracy movement in 1989. Criticised for taking part in an event against the establishment of the 4th of June Museum in New York, organised by a pro-Beijing group. He is a candidate for the US Congress: he wants funds and votes.

Rome (AsiaNews) - The former student leader Xiong Yan, protagonist of the June 1989 Tiananmen Square riots, later bloodily repressed by Chinese authorities, recently appeared at a seminar opposing the creation of the June 4th Memorial Museum in New York. His participation in the event sparked controversy among dissidents and parts of the Chinese community in the US.

Another former student leader Wang Dan posted a photo that shows Xiong Yan sitting in the middle of the front line among the leaders of the pro-Beijing group that triggered a wave of criticism blaming Xiong’s betrayal. Xiong responded to the criticism that he is running for the campaign of the federal congressional election, and he wants both funds and votes, so he has to abandon the identity of a former student leader to speak for the Chinese community.

In this photo, the red backdrop of the stage indicated the theme of the seminar: advocating the solidarity of Chinese ethnic, opposing the split of the community, and opposing the establishment of the June 4th Memorial Museum in New York. Xiong argued in a web post that he did not notice the words on the backdrop, and there was no so-called seminar. Xiong argued that they took photos. Xiong said that in a liberal society anyone can express if there is no violence or threats in the speech.

Wang Dan blamed Xiong standing by the Chinese Communist Party for his own interest and questioned on Xiong’s attitude for betraying the victims in 1989. Online comments also say that Xiong betrayed those who risked their lives to smuggle him to Hong Kong. Xiong did not respond to the condemnations against him in his post. 

After retiring from the US Army last September, Xiong announced to run for the election campaign. He declined the request for an interview from Radio Free Asia. According to the report of Radio Free Asia, the seminar was organized by a leader of the pro-Beijing community Zheng Shigan(郑时甘), who is the head of the Fujian community. Online reports show that Zheng has a close tie with Chinese authorities: he was a member of an advisory body Fujian Provincial Committee of Political Consultative Conference; he was named as a propagandist of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

Prior to his attendance at the pro-Beijing event, Xiong posted a statement in a Chinese-language newspaper in the US in early February, asking former leaders of the movement in 1989 to remove his name from the name list of the preparatory team for the June 4th Memorial Museum in New York.

The former June 4th Memorial Museum was located in Hong Kong and was raided by authorities in 2021. The exhibits and books of the museum were taken away by police. The museum exhibited the items of victims and the evidence of the massacre on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Former student leader Wang Dan and other dissidents have been advocating to re-establish the museum in New York after the museum was vandalized in Hong Kong.

During the democratic movement in 1989, Xiong Yan became famous for openly debating with Premier Li Peng. He was among the student leaders arrested by Chinese authorities after the bloody crackdown on June 4th. He was smuggled to Hong Kong then went to the US in 1992. After getting a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary, Xiong became a chaplain in U.S. Army, serving in Iraq.

In 2009, Xiong attended the June 4th Vigil in Hong Kong. In 2015, Xiong attempted to visit his mother in China who was in critical illness and was refused entry in Hong Kong: his application for a visa was rejected by Chinese authorities.