What angered me most though was that, after our demonstration, the government let the students off, but persecuted innocent bystanders. The Shandong peasant I met in the Square was sentenced to ten years in prison.
We spent the rest of 1987 in a state of nervous unease. I promised my mother that if I scored over 500 in the TOEFL exam, I’d give up my PhD and go abroad to study. My arrest had lost my mother a pay rise, and any chance of being granted Party membership.
The failure of our protests created disillusionment and apathy. Shu Tong said student politics were a waste of time, and that his plan now was to make some money, set up an independent university, and change China from within. Students went back to spending their time playing Mahjong, going dancing, or looking for part-time jobs. In the dorms, the girls talked about Italian shoes and Swiss watches, and the boys retured to discussing which of the female students were still virgins.