Can it really be 25 years since the Tiananmen Massacre shocked the world? Early in the morning of 4 June 1989, tanks crushed the last student tents and toppled the Goddess of Democracy statue. At the time, everyone thought this was a pivotal event in history. As Bill Clinton later put it, the Chinese Communist Party had forever put itself on the wrong side of history.
It dismayed Mikhail Gorbachev so much that he vowed not to use tanks to save his empire from collapse. He put himself on the right side of history, which changed everything in Europe and indeed in many other countries, such as South Africa. The age of the dictator was over, declared President Bush. And yet how the wheel has turned. Moscow is now confidently putting its old empire back together under the rule of its swaggering ex-KGB strongman, Vladimir Putin, while China is in the mono-lithic and unrepentant grip of a Communist Party blithely asserting its hegemony over much of Asia. Tiananmen was supposed to be the sign that heaven