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Protesting China's Authoritarianism: Liberty Sculpture Park

Lying in bed this morning, sorting through my news feeds on my Kindle, I ran across a note that it was 35 years ago today the Tiananmen Square protests, and killings, occurred.

For those of you too young to remember, the protests captured the world’s attention. Thousands of Chinese began flooding the square in central Beijing on April 15, 1989, demonstrating for democratic reforms.

Sculpture of man standing, from behind, facing directly toward tank coming toward him.
Tank-Man sculpture at Liberty Sculpture Park. Recreation of famous Tiananmen Square revolt photo. **

The Chinese government responded in exactly the fashion you would expect, rolling in tanks and troops. The demonstrations ended on June 4 after hundreds of protestors had been killed. Several times that were imprisoned.

The government has never acknowledged what happened and even mere mention of the protest is still banned in China.

The signature image from the protests is a photo of a lone man, wearing a white shirt and carrying shopping bags, who walked out in front of a line of tanks and stood there, motionless, and the tanks stopped.

Eventually, others, fearing for the man’s life, pulled him away. But that image of a single person, with tremendous courage, standing up for what he believed is right, endures still today.

If you want to learn more about Tiananmen Square, there’s a lot of information out there you can easily find. Here’s one source, from Amnesty International.

I offer this as background to tell you about a place in California where they are still protesting Chinese authoritarianism, Liberty Sculpture Park.

Liberty Sculpture Park

I stumbled upon Liberty Sculpture Park entirely by chance. 

Believe it or not, this past April I was heading to EddieWorld, California’s largest gas station. It is really big, though it doesn’t compare to the Iowa 80 Truckstop, the World’s Largest Truckstop that just happens to be a handful of miles from my house.

Large stainless steel number, 64, on top of a base depicting  entrapped people.
Standing for June 4, the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre, is the largest June 4 monument in the world. It stands 6.4 meters high, is located 6,400 miles from Beijing and has an inclination angle of 64 degrees. **

But that’s another story, another time.

I was traveling east along I-15, about 10 miles outside Barstow, just getting ready to take Exit 194 to EddieWorld, when I saw them.

Lined up out in the desert were these enormous sculptures. I couldn’t tell what they were, driving close to 80 mph down the highway, but I did see a big sign saying something about a sculpture park. I assumed it was one of those quirky places some person with a dream has devoted their life to, kind of like Salvation Mountain out in the Sonoma Desert or Hot Sam’s up in Minnesota.

The turnoff heading to the place just happened to be across from EddieWorld. Being a lover of all things quirky and unique, I had to check it out.

The road is about a half mile long, nothing but dirt, and quite literally, filled with potholes. You’re gonna wanna take your time driving to the entrance if you don’t want to ruin your vehicle’s suspension.

What you’ll find though is quite certainly unique, but far from quirky.

The Founder and Artist

Liberty Sculpture Park is the work of well-known artist Weiming Chen.

Liberty Sculpture Park, a long horizontal sign made up of individual letters.
It's hard to miss the large Liberty Sculpture Park, even if you are driving 80 mph down I-15. **

Chen was born in Hangzhou, China, in December, 1956. (Coincidentally, the same month and year I was born. I mention that for no other reason than I find it interesting.)

Chen’s father, a university instructor, was imprisoned just a few months after Chen was born and spent the next 21 years of his life in prison, accused of voicing opposition to China’s Communist regime.

As he became an adult, Chen hoped to immigrate to the United States but was unable to obtain a visa. After many attempts to many countries, New Zealand granted him acceptance in 1988.

His dream of coming to the US did not end there, however. He continued to apply for entry in the years that followed and, in 2007, finally made his way here. 

Chen now has a studio less than 10 miles from the sculpture park where he creates his giant works.

The Sculptures

Liberty Square Park bills itself as the world's largest sculpture park with the theme of fighting for democracy and freedom and opposing communist tyranny.

The park is only seven years old. Founded as a non-profit, it survives on limited dollars, with all the work being done by volunteers.

Much of that work includes moving these enormous sculptures from Chen’s studio to the park, mostly by hand with only small equipment.

You can check out all the sculptures and info about them over on the park’s website. I’m picking three of them to share here:


The sculpture of Tank-man, facing that tank down with his bags hanging from his arms on either side of his body, instantly jumped out at me as I drove into the park. Anyone who was around 35 years ago has that image permanently inscribed in their memory.

Second view of Tank-Man, Tiananmen Square, sculpture with64 sculpture in background.
Second view of Tank-Man, Tiananmen Square, sculpture with64 sculpture in background. **

Though there has been speculation as to his identity, it has never been definitively confirmed. He was simply dubbed Tank Man at the time and that has continued since.

While the sculptured tank is somewhat smaller than the real thing, it still gives you a clear sense of what happened that day. 

The Chained Woman

The sculpture of a Chinese woman, chains wrapped around her neck and body, standing on a concrete platform dripping with red paint, symbolizing blood, was the most moving, and a bit disturbing, of the statues.

Here’s the information appearing on the back of the sculpture. Be forewarned, it’s not pleasant.

Image of woman, standing, facing forward, chained around her neck and body.
Chained Woman sculpture at Liberty Sculpture Park. **

In January 2022, as the Chinese Communist Party had put an end to its brutal one-child policy, and began vigorously encouraging Chinese to have more children, the story of Dong Zhimin, a man in his fifties living in Feng County, went viral. Dong has fathered eight children, and many people flocked to the village to interview and film him and his family.

A video clip from that time shows Dong’s wife chained around the neck in a dilapidated hut in their courtyard. On the ground is a dirty bowl filled with rotten food. The woman, who is missing teeth and whose clothing is in tatters, appears terrified. She mutters to herself: “I’m just like a whore”, “This room is full of rapists”, and “This world doesn’t want me anymore.”

Some concerned people went to the village to investigate and discovered even more horrific facts. The woman had been kidnapped and sold into slavery and eventually was resold to Dong’s family. She was raped and gang-raped repeatedly throughout the years, and she was forced to give birth to eight children, while at eh same time being tortured and beaten. The woman had numerous teeth pulled out and her tongue was mutilated. She appeared to be suffering from mental illness, apparently due to being imprisoned for years and being confined by iron chains locked around her neck. The disturbing video clip created a heated debate on social media.

The story goes onto say the authorities committed to an investigation but soon barricaded the village and threatened anyone who inquired about the woman with arrest. What happened to her has never been determined.

It also says that official data reports that, between 1986 and 2006, there were more than 48,000 cases of women and girls being abducted and sold into slavery in the six counties around where the chained woman was found.

Chief Crazy Horse

It would be impossible, I dare you, to visit the park and not notice the bust of Chief Crazy Horse.

Tall bust of Chief Crazy Horse on top of a large concrete base.
Chief Crazy Horse, the first sculpture in Liberty Sculpture Park. **

Not only is it big, very big, it’s also right in the center of the park and, if the thought hasn’t already crossed your mind, it’s the only sculpture in the park not somehow related to China.

Making it even more interesting, it was the first sculpture Chen chose to install in the park, in 2017, the 140th anniversary of Chief Crazy Horse’s death.

Chen said he admires Crazy Horse’s spirit, and that it is meaningful to commemorate the indigenous people who fought for democracy and freedom on American soil.

He’s also said it’s his favorite sculpture.


I have to say, exploring the park is a very heavy experience. Each of the sculptures includes information about what they represent. All focused on transgressions of the Chinese government.

Signs, mostly protesting Chinese involvement in Hong Kong, hung from a simple wire fence.
Signs hanging from entrance fence to Liberty Square Park. If you look closely in background, that's the giant sundae outside EddieWorld. **

The fence stemming out from the entrance is also filled with small, handmade signs, maybe 10 inches square, mostly left by visitors, most protesting Chinese actions.

Chen plans to continue adding to the park for however long life allows him to do so. The park has a total of 36 acres to work with so there’s plenty of room to grow.

There’s a lot more to tell about the park. I’d encourage you to check out this article from the National Review

There’s an interesting sidenote in there about a Covid statue that I didn’t share here, and how secret agents from China burned it down.

How’s that for a teaser?


**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address,, or a link back to this page.


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