FIVE years after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, many Chinese live in enforced silence. They suffer helplessly and are consumed with anger and dismay. My father, Bao Tong, was arrested suddenly on May 28, 1989, in connection with the student movement that spring. Still in prison, his health is being ruined by these years of solitary confinement. Our family endures endless worry and constant fear. Before his incarceration, Bao Tong was Director of the Central Research Institute for Political Reform and a senior adviser to the then party general secretary, Zhao Ziyang. Their plans for political reform included separating the powers of party and state, setting up a fair civil service policy, and promoting democratic procedures in the Government. But by 1989, after two years of quiet work, Bao Tong's plans for political reform had become virtually impossible to pursue due to enormous resistance from the threatened old guard. That spring, when the conservatives in the Government used the student demonstrations to prepare to oust the reformers, Bao Tong, along with Mr Zhao, attempted to protect the fragile future of political reform and also avoid what they knew could be a bloody crackdown on the movement. When the situation intensified and ultimate bloodshed seemed unavoidable, Mr Zhao resigned. Later, Mr Zhao was denounced for ''supporting the turmoil'' and ''splitting the party''. But Bao took the blame as the key person behind the unrest; he was formally arrested, accused of ''counter-revolutionary incitement'', and finally sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. His institute was dismantled and political reform in China came to a halt. The efforts of those who attempted to reform the existing system were crushed in their efforts to elevate the rights of the Chinese citizen. The June 4 crackdown, the imprisonment of Bao Tong and the continuous political repression are not only attacks to crush political dissent, but also attacks on a fragile idea, the recognition of personal dignity, which is just beginning to take root in the minds of the Chinese people. In the past, lack of respect for individual lives has led the Chinese people into numerous catastrophes: horrors created by senseless political campaigns. The Great Leap Forward, the People's Communes and the Cultural Revolution all ended in massive devastation. Decisions made by the Chinese leadership in the 1990s have continued to reveal a disregard for the individual. Plans to displace millions of people for the building of a dam are made with no attempt to gain the support of those whose lives would be disrupted. Government bonds are frequently given to employees in place of wages. The coastal belt and some urban areas receive privileged development conditions while the rural populations in interior provinces have been left out. These are all potentially volatile situations, and if they accumulate over time the likelihood of disaster increases. It is unreasonable for Americans to depend on an institution such as business, whose bottom-line is profit, to be the major driving force for promoting lofty principles in China. Yet, business itself may be increasingly frustrated by the system of coercion and autocracy that remains in China. The nation's already rampant corruption is likely to worsen, as there is nothing to inhibit its flourishing. China has always fallen into dynastic cycles of establishment of an autocratic regime, corruption and oppression, and finally internal rebellion. The longer the oppression, the more violent the revolt. The economic boom today can be overturned overnight in this unstable system of totalitarianism. Patriarch Deng Xiaoping's death followed by a power struggle could release the pent-up dissatisfaction of the people. Ideas of respect for the individual need to be promoted at all levels of Chinese society, or the dynastic cycle will continue to take its course. Above all, to respect all human lives, to be concerned with human suffering: that is what the June 4 movement and human rights are all about.