A press blackout was ordered by the central and provincial governments. No journalists were allowed into Nanjing. I had met Nick Kristof at the Jianguo Hotel in Beijing on November 1st. His wife, Cheryl Wu Dun, was still in Taiwan, at the time. He was new in China, having just replaced Edward Gargan for the New York Times. We spent an evening talking in the hotel, which is within walking distance of the New York Times bureau office. I gave Nick my phone number in Nanjing. In the evening following the first demonstration he telephoned my room. We could tell that the phone lines were tapped. But we talked quickly. He wanted to know if I had pictures. I said I did. I said I just had the raw film. Here we had a misunderstanding. I thought he told me to make prints and send them to him. But he may have merely asked for the film rolls. In any case I misunderstood him and made a bad choice in the next days. He asked if I could Fed Ex them to him. Apparently Fed Ex was safe from searches at that time. He asked more more questions about the events of the day and I gave him answers. He could not get out of Nanjing. By coincidence however there was a CNN film crew in Nanjing, headed by John Pomfret, and I did meet them also the next night.
This was a big big story that according to the government was NOT happening. Unfortunately, as time passed, the efforts of the government to suppress what had happened worked. Neither Kristof or Pomfret or anyone else wrote about Nanjing when they wrote about Tiananmen. And yet all students knew what the prelude was.
That evening, there was a dusting of snow. I was working in my room, expecting to go out and watch student demonstrations the next day. Suddenly the entire building began to shake and shake like an earthquake. At first I thought it was an earthquake. I stood and looked down out the window again onto the streets. "Jesus Christ," I shouted, "We are really in the middle of Dr. Zhivago." The street was filled with soldiers, pouring into Nanjing. Truck after truck after truck, each with perhaps a dozen or more soldiers with an officer standing at the rear of the truck facing back. Some of these were the Anhui Armed Police --a large military force from a neighboring province, Anhui. The system of the government, as at Tiananmen, was not to call upon local soldiers to crush demonstrations and opposition. Soldiers from the distant provinces were brought into Beijing to crush the Tiananmen demonstrations. And soldiers from Anhui were brought in to crush the student demonstrations in Jiangsu province. But all the time the government insisted this was NOT happening.
What was making the building shake was tanks. Several of them grinding and rumbling down the street towards the center of town. I grabbed my camera-- realized I had no film -- and put it down and ran downstairs. The exits to my building were blocked by administrators. Nobody should go outside, they said. I waited for a bit. Finally I saw another professor. We decided to go out the back door and onto the street to see what was happening near the Gulou and the center of the city that night.
To be continued.