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Letter from Ding Zilin to Mrs. Lois Snow

March 27, 2017

Ding Zilin, mother of Jiang Jielian, who was shot and killed, at age 17, on the night of June 3, 1989, is a founder of the Tiananmen Mothers group. Mrs. Lois Snow is the widow of the late Edgar Snow,  American journalist and author of Red Star Over China (1937), widely regarded as one of  the most important books about the birth of the Communist movement in China.  

Dear Mrs. Lois Snow,

How are you and your daughter and her family? I miss you very much.

I’ve survived another miserable year. Whenever I was alone and sad, I couldn’t help thinking of you, drawing strength from your fortitude in adversity.

My dear friend! Like this, I managed to overcome my weakness time and again—because sometimes I really didn’t want to live anymore, and would rather go to heaven to find my husband and son.

Anyway, let me tell you news that might provide some comfort!

Perhaps it was the Tiananmen Mothers’ perseverance over the past ten years that touched heaven—Mr. Snow's grave at Weiming Lake at Peking University is finally no longer overgrown and grimy, and Mr. Snow is no longer lonesome even though he is far away from you and the family. Not only do generation after generation of Chinese people learn about the friendship between Mr. Snow and Mao Zedong, along with the Communist Party of China, from official propaganda (not long ago, the series "Red Star Over China," probably a new production, aired on television—I did not watch it), the observant ones can also discern from the fresh flowers that the Tiananmen Mothers place in front of Mr. Snow’s tombstone on February 15 each year the unceasing friendship between you—and Mr. Snow, whom you represent—and the ordinary Chinese people, and the profound meaning embedded in that friendship.

At 10:00 am on February 15, when our group of Tiananmen Mothers climbed the small hillside to offer our flowers as we’ve done for several years, we found that not only the grave was clean, but also some people had come before us and placed flowers in front of it. Some were just individual branches, others in bunches—but none bore any names. A few years ago, there were even flower baskets placed there by official groups or semi-official civil society groups.

This year, when the four of us (myself and Yin Min, mothers of June Fourth victims, and You Weijie and Huang Jinping, widows of June Fourth victims) went to visit Mr. Snow’s grave, we found four bunches of withered flowers placed in front of the tombstone. Two of them were wrapped in English newspapers, which might have been laid there by foreign friends. There were also two empty flower baskets on the ground behind the tombstone. We surmise that people had been coming to place flowers at Mr. Snow’s grave ever since the Chinese New Year.

Great love has no borders, and is not obstructed by ideology. We were deeply touched and wanted to share that with you.

Dear Mrs. Snow! In the earthly world, 17 years ago you traveled thousands of miles to China in spite of your advanced age, but power thwarted our seeing each other. Nonetheless, some day, in heaven, we will finally be able to embrace one another freely.

In the meantime, I, with all my heart, wish you a healthy and long life! And bless your whole family!

I’d like to note that the attached photos of us this year in front of the cemetery were taken by a student of the School of Economics at Peking University who was passing by.


Ding Zilin 
















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