What Pegman Saw – Integrity

 “What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s location is Xinhua, China

WPS - Integrity - 200202


On June 4th 1989 the Chinese Army stormed the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and its environs. Official figures say hundreds were killed. Unofficial figures say thousands. The casualties were not all among protestors and bystanders; the army lost at least a dozen, dragged from their vehicles and beaten to death. Scores of military vehicles were destroyed.


My editor at Xinhua News was sleek and plump, his office newly-painted.

“Feng, what is the directive for coverage of the riots in Tiananmen Square?” he demanded.

“They are a false ideology intended to undermine the stability of our great nation.”

He waved a piece of paper in front of me.

“Then why this?”

“Sir, I’m a journalist. I try to be truthful. Dozens of protestors have told me that this is a non-violent action. They’re looking for reform, not revolution.”

“Take it away, and write something suitable.” He rammed it into my hand. I bowed. He was a greedy political appointee, but he was my boss.

That evening I was seized by police. After weeks of interrogation I was released when I agreed to be re-educated by working on a farm for five years.

It could have been worse. I might have been in the Square on June 4th.

14 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Integrity

  1. There’s a reason so many dystopian stories feature the plight of journalists, and you portray it very vividly here. Makes me remember how fortunate I am not to live in a society where going to a “re-education” camp for five years is the better option…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Following on from what Joy says, my 2nd novel features a journalist in a similar situation. What’s more troubling is the spread of this sort of controlled media, by governments or corporations. It’s difficult to know what to believe anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember those scenes vividly, as I’m sure you do, Penny. The students facing down the tanks in the square. I’m not sure how much has changed there and Josh makes a good point that China has always been introverted to an extent. You describe that stark situation so well, with your usual empathy. Very well done

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly. Yes, China has always done things differently. Chinese citizens, whether by nature or nurture, are much more inclined to put the well-being of society ahead of their own interests. If your position in society happens to be important, well, the rewards you receive are just part of the nature of things, and a social good…
      It must be extremely difficult to govern a state of 1.4 billion people. The demonstrations in 1989 weren’t confined to Tiananmen Square; there were movements in many places, and their ideology struck at the heart of the one party system. I wonder what sort of chaos would have resulted had the pro-democracy movement not been crushed mercilessly?
      With very best wishes


      • You make a good point about the chaos that might have ensued have the pro democracy movement succeeded. Whenever there’s a massive change like that there’s always instability, even if many of us works say it was a good thing in the long run. And some might say democracy struggles in such a large scale. It worked for the Greeks because they were only dealing with a city state. How would it work with a nation so large? A great and thought provoking story

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for your further comments. You’re right about the Greek city states. They were only small, but what a debt we owe them, especially Athens! (I shall be back there on holiday in May – Yay!)
      With very best wishes


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