The Han Solo of Tiananmen Square

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 6 2014 4:30 PM

The Han Solo of Tiananmen Square

rtr3rr2g
Chan in Hong Kong in the present day.

REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the massacre triggered by student protests in Tiananmen Square, and the New York Times has a feature on a very colorful-sounding 70-year-old Hong Kong individual named Chan Tat Ching who helped democracy activists escape the mainland in the killings' aftermath. Chan was already in business as a smuggler who snuck "pocket calculators, cheap jewelry, liquor and even cars" into China, and like Harrison Ford's character in Star Wars, his natural anti-authoritarian leanings made him an easy mark for the idealists who came to him with a problem:

About 10 days into the crackdown, a group of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong invited Mr. Chan to a hotel room and asked for his help. They had already talked to a triad boss who had tried to extort them, and Mr. Chan, with his festering grudges against the party, seemed a safer choice, said Lau Tan Man, a magazine editor involved in the rescue effort. Mr. Chan said he did not hesitate.
“If you thought too much about it, you wouldn’t have done it,” he said.
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Read the rest of the piece for more on the Life of Chan, who can't use his left arm because, he says, gangsters “mistook him for a crime world figure" in 1996 and attacked him with cleavers.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

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