25 Years Later, Tiananmen Square Still Colors U.S.-China Relations

Tom Malinowski
U.S. State Department
Today, the United States is asking of the Chinese government what we have asked for 25 years: to provide the fullest possible accounting of the Tiananmen events and to stop retribution against those who wish to remember them.

25 Years Later, Lessons From Tiananmen Square Crackdown

Melinda Liu
National Geographic
A quarter century after democracy protests ended in bloodshed, Chinese still clamor for clean government and courts.

Catholic Cardinal Makes First Appearance at Vigil

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
Cardinal Joseph Zen of the Catholic Church, a longtime advocate of greater democracy in Hong Kong and mainland China, attended the annual candlelight vigil for Tiananmen Square victims for the first time in Hong Kong on Wednesday evening.

Remarks by President Obama at at 25th Anniversary of Freedom Day

Barack Obama
Office of the Press Secretary
Barack Obama reminds Poles that while they voted for democracy twenty-five years ago this day, China crushed pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square...

In Pictures, Remembering the Tiananmen Square Massacre

Niki Walker
Mashable
Twenty-five years ago on Wednesday, the Chinese government, acting under martial law, deployed 200,000 troops into Beijing's Tiananmen Square...

Tiananmen at Twenty-Five: "Victory Over Memory"

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
Today, technology and globalism are prying open the lives of China’s people. But, in matters of politics and history, the Party is determined to silence even the “few flies” that Deng Xiaoping once described as a bearable side effect of an open...

Hong Kong Recalls Tiananmen Killings, China Muffles Dissent

Adam Rose and Ben Blanchard
Reuters
Tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong to mark the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters 25 years ago in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, while mainland China authorities sought to whitewash the event...

Stuart Franklin: How I Photographed Tiananmen Square and 'Tank Man'

Mee-Lai Stone
Guardian
The Magnum photographer tells his story of the 1989 protests, from peaceful demonstration to bloody crackdown, the iconic 'tank man' – and how hamburgers gave him his big break...

Marking 25th Anniversary of China's Tiananmen Square Takes Creativity

Barbara Demick
Los Angeles Times
Every year, political activists try to commemorate those who died in the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square, and the Chinese government tries to prevent them, a cat-and-mouse game as classic as "Tom and Jerry."...

Media

06.03.14

A Day to Remember/A Day Forgotten

Susan Jakes
China’s suppression of the memory of the June 4 massacre of demonstrators in Beijing in 1989 is a perennial and important subject of commentary. Much written on the subject is excellent, but little I’ve seen describes repressed memory in action as...

Tiananmen, Forgotten

Helen Gao
New York Times
To my generation, the widespread patriotic liberalism that bonded the students in the early 1980s feels as distant as the political fanaticism that defined the preceding decades.

Culture

06.03.14

A Visit to Hong Kong’s June 4th Museum

Amy Chung
Every Saturday in Hong Kong, volunteer curator and translator C.S. Liu helps guide visitors through the first permanent museum dedicated to the history of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989 in Beijing.At the entrance to the June 4th...

Features

06.03.14

Voices from Tiananmen

This Wednesday marks the 25th anniversary of the deadly suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen protests on June 4. It has been a quarter of a century of enormous change in China, but one key fact of life in that country has not changed: its leaders...

The Tanks and the People

Liao Yiwu from New York Review of Books
Twenty-five years ago, before the Tiananmen massacre, my father told me: “Son, be good and stay at home, never provoke the Communist Party.”My father knew what he was talking about. His courage had been broken, by countless political campaigns...

25 Years After the Tiananmen Crackdown

Zhang Hongtu and Zhao Gang
Creative Time Reports
The Asian American Arts Centre responded to the June 1989 events with an open-call exhibition of artworks related to the uprising and its suppression called “China: June 4, 1989.” To commemorate the event's 25th anniversary, Creative Time...

China Escalating Attack on Google

Dan Levin
New York Times
The authorities in China have made Google’s services largely inaccessible in recent days, a move most likely related to the government’s broad efforts to stifle discussion of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

Tales of Army Discord Show Tiananmen Square in a New Light

Andrew Jacobs and Chris Buckley
New York Times
In a stunning rebuke to his superiors, Major General Xu Qinxian said the Tiananmen protests were a political problem and should be settled through negotiations, not force.

Conversation

06.02.14

25 Years On, Can China Move Past Tiananmen?

Xu Zhiyuan, Arthur Waldron & more
Xu Zhiyuan:Whenever the massacre at Tiananmen Square twenty-five years ago comes up in conversation, I think of Faulkner’s famous line: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”Some believe that China’s economic growth and rise to international...

Video

06.02.14

Cairo in Chinese

Alison Klayman
When Shen Yitong left her home in China to study French at Cairo University in 2008, she didn’t know that she would come to think of Egypt as a second home, or that she would see revolution come upon the country so suddenly. Her parents came from...

‘You Won’t Get Near Tiananmen!’: Hu Jia on the Continuing Crackdown

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Hu Jia is one of China’s best-known political activists. He participated in the 1989 Tiananmen protests as a fifteen-year-old, studied economics, and then worked for environmental and public health non-governmental organizations. A practicing...

25 Years On, No Fading of Tiananmen Wounds, Ideals

Louise Watt and Isolda Morillo
Associated Press
While China's economy, society and cities have transformed in the last 25 years, Tiananmen demonstrators and their supporters are keen to remind the world that other things haven't changed...

China’s Culture of Compliance Is Crippling the Country

Rana Foroohar
Time
This year, China will very likely overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. It has certainly become wealthy. But it has also become less free.

Excerpts

05.28.14

‘Staying’—An Excerpt from ‘People’s Republic of Amnesia’

Louisa Lim
Zhang Ming has become used to his appearance startling small children. Skeletally thin, with cheeks sunk deep into his face, he walked gingerly across the cream-colored hotel lobby as if his limbs were made of glass. On his forehead were two large,...

Your 3-Letter Guide to the Latest News From China

James Fallows
Atlantic
Those three letters are B, A, and D.

Tiananmen: How Wrong We Were

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Twenty-five years ago to the day I write this, I watched and listened as thousands of Chinese citizens in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square dared to condemn their leaders. Some shouted “Premier Li Peng resign.” Even braver ones cried “Down with Deng...

China: Detained to Death

Renee Xia & Perry Link from New York Review of Books
On May 3, fifteen Beijing citizens—scholars, journalists, and rights lawyers—gathered informally at the home of Professor Hao Jian of the Beijing Film Academy to reflect on the 25th anniversary of the 1989 June Fourth massacre in Beijing. Two days...

Viewpoint

04.20.14

The Specter of June Fourth

Perry Link
If yesterday was typical, about 1,400 children in Africa died of malaria. It is a preventable, treatable disease, and the young victims lost their lives through no faults of their own. Why it is that human beings accept a fact like this as an...

Viewpoint

10.15.13

Trust Issues: Hong Kong Resists Beijing’s Advances

Sebastian Veg
When Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, expectations were high—in Beijing and among the pro-mainland forces in Hong Kong—that identification with the Chinese nation would slowly but surely strengthen among the local population,...

Media

09.18.13

For Chinese, Violence in the Middle East Sparks Debate on Democracy, Stability

Recent months have been rocky for the Middle East: harsh crackdowns on protesters in Egypt and a Rashomon-like scenario in which the Syrian government and the rebels have accused each other of using chemical weapons, just to name a few. The region’s...

Books

09.12.13

Blocked on Weibo

Jason Q. Ng
Though often described with foreboding buzzwords such as “The Great Firewall” and the “censorship regime,” Internet regulation in China is rarely either obvious or straightforward. This was the  inspiration for China specialist Jason Q. Ng to write an innovative computer script that would make it possible to deduce just which  terms are  suppressed on  China’s most important social media site, Sina Weibo. The  remarkable and groundbreaking result is Blocked on Weibo, which began as a highly  praised blog and has been expanded here  to list over 150 forbidden keywords, as well as offer possible explanations why the Chinese government would find these terms sensitive.As Ng explains, Weibo (roughly the equivalent of Twitter), with over 500 million registered accounts, censors hundreds of words and phrases, ranging from fairly obvious terms, including “tank” (a reference to the “Tank Man” who stared down the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square) and  the names of top government officials (if they can’t be found online, they can’t be criticized), to deeply obscure references, including “hairy bacon” (a coded insult referring to Mao’s embalmed body).With dozens of phrases that could get a Chinese Internet user invited  to the  local  police station “for a cup of tea” (a euphemism for being detained by the  authorities), Blocked  on Weibo offers an invaluable guide to sensitive topics in modern-day China as well as a fascinating tour of recent Chinese history.  —The New Press{chop}

Books

07.10.13

For a Song and a Hundred Songs

Liao Yiwu. Translated by Wenguang Huang
In June 1989, news of the Tiananmen Square protests and its bloody resolution reverberated throughout the world. A young poet named Liao Yiwu, who had until then led an apolitical bohemian existence, found his voice in that moment. Like the solitary man who stood firmly in front of a line of tanks, Liao proclaimed his outrage—and his words would be his weapon. For a Song and a Hundred Songs captures the four brutal years Liao spent in jail for writing the incendiary poem “Massacre.” Through the power and beauty of his prose, he reveals the bleak reality of crowded Chinese prisons—the harassment from guards and fellow prisoners, the torture, the conflicts among human beings in close confinement, and the boredom of everyday life. But even in his darkest hours, Liao manages to unearth the fundamental humanity in his cell mates: he writes of how they listen with rapt attention to each other’s stories of criminal endeavors gone wrong and of how one night, ravenous with hunger, they dream up an “imaginary feast,” with each inmate trying to one-up the next by describing a more elaborate dish. In this important book, Liao presents a stark and devastating portrait of a nation in flux, exposing a side of China that outsiders rarely get to see. In the wake of 2011’s Arab Spring, the world has witnessed for a second time China’s crackdown on those citizens who would speak their mind, like artist Ai Weiwei and legal activist Chen Guangcheng. Liao stands squarely among them and gives voice to not only his own story, but to the stories of those individuals who can no longer speak for themselves. For a Song and a Hundred Songs bears witness to history and will forever change the way you view the rising superpower of China.   —New Harvest

Conversation

06.04.13

How Would Facing Its Past Change China’s Future?

David Wertime, Isabel Hilton & more
David Wertime:The memory of the 1989 massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square remains neither alive nor dead, neither reckoned nor obliterated. Instead, it hangs spectre-like in the background, a muted but latently powerful symbol of resistance...

Media

06.04.13

On Eve of Tiananmen Anniversary, China’s Prominent Weiborati Speak Out

“Don’t worry about forgetfulness—at least the Sina censors remember,” tweeted Jia Zhangke, a film director.Like 2013, 1989 was the year of the Snake on the Chinese calendar. It was also a year that Chinese authorities prefer not to remember. On the...

Poet’s Nightmare In Chinese Prison

Elaine Sciolino
New York Times
 Chinese author and poet Liao Yiwu on his reluctant dissent, his years in a Chinese prison, his relatively new celebrity status, and living with the torutrous memories of his violent experiences. 

China’s First Lady Serenaded Tiananmen Troops

Associated Press
A photo of China’s new first lady Peng Liyuan in younger days, singing to martial-law troops following the 1989 bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, flickered across Chinese cyberspace...

Viewpoint

04.04.13

‘Hi! I’m Fang!’ The Man Who Changed China

Perry Link
In China in the 1980s, the word renquan (“human rights”) was extremely “sensitive.” Few dared even to utter it in public, let alone to champion the concept. Now, nearly three decades later, a grassroots movement called weiquan (“supporting rights”)...

Teaching Tiananmen

Jeremy Brown and Benedicte Melanie Olsen
Perspectives on History
With more than two decades of hindsight, it has become clear that 1989 marked a key turning point in world history. It is now possible to analyze the momentous events of 1989 in a historical fashion, and also to teach history classes about them. In...

Journalistic Ethics Questioned at SCMP

Asia Sentinel
Asia Sentinel
So why was Li Wangyang’s suicide not news – at first?A decision by the South China Morning Post’s new editor in chief, Wang Xiangwei, to reduce a major breaking story on the suspicious death of Tiananmen dissident Li Wangyang in a Hunan hospital to...

Media

06.07.12

An Absent Presence

Sun Yunfan
In Chan Koonchung’s dystopian science fiction novel The Fat Years, set in China in 2013, the whole month of Feburary 2011 has disappeared from people’s memory. In reality, the month that is closest to being spirited away is the month of June 1989...

What Happened on the Shanghai Stock Exchange?

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
China experienced a bizarre numerological happening this week. The Shanghai Composite Index started yesterday morning at 2346.98, which, when read from right to left, shares an uncanny similarity to yesterday’s highly sensitive anniversary: twenty-...

Online Tiananmen Commemoration Snuffed Out

Josh Chin
WSJ: China Real Time Report
A snippet from a classical poem about the pain of bidding goodbye to loved ones has experienced an unexpected resurgence in China roughly 12 centuries after it was written. The poem’s author, Li Shangyin, has censors at China’s most talked-about...

My ‘Confession’

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
From reading Henry Kissinger’s new book On China,1 I have learned that Mr. Kissinger met with Deng Xiaoping at least eleven times—more than with any other Chinese leader—and that the topic of one of their chats was whether Fang Lizhi would confess...

The Past and the Future

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
Concerning the Past:I have maintained that China should move forward with the reform of society. In many speeches before 1988, I openly expressed my advocacy of reform in China.I acknowledge that the following are my principal views:Marxism—whether...

China: From Famine to Oslo

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Each year around the “sensitive” anniversary of the Beijing massacre of June 4, 1989, Ding Zilin, a seventy-four-year-old retired professor of philosophy, is accompanied by a group of plainclothes police whenever she leaves her apartment to go buy...

China’s Dictators at Work: The Secret Story

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Prisoner of the State is the secretly recorded memoir of Zhao Ziyang, once holder of China’s two highest Party and state positions and the architect of the economic reforms that have brought the country to the edge of great-power status. The book...

Casting a Lifeline

Francine Prose from New York Review of Books
Sixty pages or so into Ma Jian’s novel Beijing Coma, the hero, Dai Wei, is troubled by the memory of a harrowing anatomy lecture that he attended as a university student. Taught by “a celebrated cardiovascular specialist,” the class observed the...

He Would Have Changed China

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In trying to make sense of their country’s turbulent modern history, Chinese intellectuals sometimes resort to counterfactual speculation. How might things have been different if one or another accidental event had happened differently? For decades...

He Won’t Give In

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
On June 4, 1989, having heard that the Tiananmen demonstrations had been lethally crushed, Kang Zhengguo, a professor of literature at a university in Shaanxi province, pinned a piece of paper to his chest displaying the words “AIM YOUR GUNS HERE.”...

‘June Fourth’ Seventeen Years Later: How I Kept a Promise

Pu Zhiqiang from New York Review of Books
The weekend of June 3, 2006, was the seventeenth anniversary of the Beijing massacre and also the first time I ever received a summons. It happened, as the police put it, “according to law.” Twice within twenty-four hours Deputy Chief Sun Di of...

China: The Uses of Fear

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Instilling deadly fear throughout the population was one of Mao Zedong’s lasting contributions to China since the late Twenties. In the case of Dai Qing, one of China’s sharpest critics before 1989, fear seems to explain the sad transformation in...

On Leaving a Chinese Prison

Jiang Qisheng from New York Review of Books
“What I did, what landed me in prison, was really quite simple—I just said in public what my fellow citizens were saying in all those other nooks.” —Jiang Qisheng

A Little Leap Forward

Nicholas D. Kristof from New York Review of Books
The Communist dynasty is collapsing in China, and in retrospect one of the first signs was a Chinese-language computer virus that began spreading when I was a reporter in Beijing in the early 1990s. The virus would pop up on your screen and ask a...

China: The Defining Moment

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
The evolution of the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949 has been tumultuous and bloody, and marked by the suffering of millions. It has been anything but peaceful. Yet it is precisely the prospect of “peaceful evolution,” which in...

The Beginning of the End

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Failed rebellions are often like failed marriages: former partners and their friends blame the other side for what went wrong; old tensions are magnified; the past is rewritten; feuding camps are formed. This pretty much sums up the situation among...

Jumping Into the Sea

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“Be sure to prevent any contact between the barbarians and the population,” the Emperor Qianlong ordered in 1793. This is one of the many pointed epigraphs in China Wakes, and it shows what Chinese rulers knew for centuries: that, for the emperors,...

The Prodigal Sons

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
What do Xi Yang, Wei Jingsheng, and Wang Juntao have in common? Yes, they are all “counter-revolutionary elements, subversives, splittists, black hands”—whatever Peking cares to call them—and all three are familiar with the Party’s prison...

The Chinese Amnesia

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
The following was written while Fang Lizhi was staying in the American Embassy in Beijing, before his release last June.In November 1989, during the fifth month of my refuge inside the American Embassy in Beijing, I received two letters from New...

From the Ming to Deng Xiaoping

John K. Fairbank from New York Review of Books
When I began teaching Chinese history at Harvard in 1936 my first students turned out to be the brightest I would ever have—Theodore White as an undergraduate and Mary Clabaugh as a Ph.D. candidate. Mary Clabaugh was a Vassar graduate from...

The Empire Strikes Back

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“President Bush still regards you as his friend, a friend forever,” Brent Scowcroft told Deng Xiaoping in Beijing on December 10, six months and seven days after Deng ordered the People’s Liberation Army into Tiananmen Square. In Washington, the...

Keeping the Faith

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
I am proud and deeply moved to have this opportunity to speak with you here today; but at the same time, I am also filled with a sense of sorrow and shame. I am moved because you have chosen to honor me with the 1989 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights...