Asleep in the luxury coach of the Nanjing-Shanghai express. -- Picture by Francis Chin

It was spring, 1991. I was among a group of Singapore journalists visiting China at the invitation of Cathay Pacific Airways to mark the opening of its Dragon Air subsidiary's operation in various Chinese cities.

The memory of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, ordered by the country's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, was still fresh in my mind. I wrote this commentary during a train ride from Nanjing to Shanghai, across the great central plain. A week after my return, I expanded it somewhat for publication in The New Paper afternoon newspaper -- where I worked as a sub-editor.

According to Professor Hao Xiaoming, lecturer in mass communication at Nanyang Technological University, China has changed considerably since then. However, I believe the dreams, aspirations and sentiments of the common individuals remain the same. -- Francis Chin

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A Shanghai passenger on the Nanjing-Shanghai express, spring 1991. Picture by Francis Chin