Views differ on May 4 event

Fox Yi Hu

Last week, students from all over the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau commemorated the 87th anniversary of China's May Fourth Movement.

On the afternoon of May 4, 1919, more than 3,000 Beijing students staged a protest against foreign domination of their country and the inaction of a corrupt Chinese government.

The protest triggered a huge cultural and political campaign - the May Fourth Movement - which sought to change traditional Chinese values and introduce democracy to the country.

In remembrance of the movement, May 4 was officially named Youth Day on the mainland.

In Hong Kong last Thursday, hundreds of students attended a flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai to mark the occasion.

In Macau, student leaders from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau were invited by the Macau Chinese Student Association to share their views on the movement.

Students from different regions have different views about this historical event.

Zhi Xuming, a fourth year student at Guangdong University of Technology, stressed the patriotic element of the movement. 'It was a patriotic movement launched by students to save the country,' he said. 'By remembering history, we can better plan our future and contribute to the nation's prosperity.'

However, Peng Hui-shan from Taiwan's Tamkang University said: 'Our history textbooks refer to it as a literature movement. We don't commemorate May 4 in Taiwan. Instead, we celebrate Youth Day on March 29.'

In Taiwan, May 4 is known as Literary Day.

Tiffany Sung Kit-ying, a fourth year student at Chu Hai College of Higher Education in Hong Kong, said the movement put the spotlight on youth involvement in politics.

Ng Chi-neng from the University of Macau provided a relatively comprehensive description of the movement, although, like Xuming and Kit-ying, she missed the literary element mentioned by Hui-shan.

'It was a wake-up call in which students tried to save the country and restore its dignity,' she said, 'It was a huge movement that affected the whole country.'

But the four students were reluctant to talk about another historic mainland student movement - the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989.

'We can learn more about May Fourth than Tiananmen because the latter is not included in history books,' said Chi-neng.