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.
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.