Books

06.18.14

The People’s Republic of Amnesia

Louisa Lim
On June 4, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter-century later, this defining event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, NPR correspondent Louisa Lim charts how the events of June 4th changed China, and how China changed the events of June 4th by rewriting its own history.{node, 5555}Lim reveals new details about those fateful days, including how one of the country's most senior politicians lost a family member to an army bullet, as well as the inside story of the young soldiers sent to clear Tiananmen Square. She also introduces us to individuals whose lives were transformed by the events of Tiananmen Square, such as a founder of the Tiananmen Mothers, whose son was shot by martial law troops; and one of the most important government officials in the country, who post-Tiananmen became one of its most prominent dissidents. And she examines how June 4th shaped China's national identity, fostering a generation of young nationalists, who know little and care less about 1989. For the first time, Lim uncovers the details of a brutal crackdown in a second Chinese city that until now has been a near-perfect case study in the state's ability to rewrite history, excising the most painful episodes. By tracking down eyewitnesses, discovering U.S. diplomatic cables, and combing through official Chinese records, Lim offers the first account of a story that has remained untold for a quarter of a century. The People's Republic of Amnesia is an original, powerfully gripping, and ultimately unforgettable book about a national tragedy and an unhealed wound. —Oxford University Press {chop}

Viewpoint

06.13.14

Arrested Chinese Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang Speaks from Prison

“They bring me in for questioning practically every day. Sometimes the sessions last as long as ten hours. My legs are getting swollen, probably from sitting on a bench without moving for so long.” He said of these grueling interrogation sessions, “...

Media

06.05.14

A Time-Lapse Map of Protests Sweeping China in 1989

Twenty-five years ago in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, a group of small-town high school students listening to shortwave radio heard news of a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators nearly 1,000 miles away in the capital of...

Exiled Tiananmen Leader Slips into China

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
Zhou Fengsuo, 47, a student leader in 1989, spent two days in the capital—visiting Tiananmen Square and a detention center where his friends are being held—before the authorities caught him on June 3.

The Ghosts of Tiananmen Square

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Every spring, an old friend of mine named Xu Jue makes a trip to the Babaoshan cemetery in the western suburbs of Beijing to lay flowers on the tombs of her dead son and husband. She always plans her visit for April 5, which is the holiday of Pure...

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...

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."...

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.

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...

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...

‘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...

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,...

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...

China Charges Prominent Uighur Professor with Separatism

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
The government’s case against Ilham Tohti is the latest sign of its hardening stance on dissent in Xinjiang, where unrest in the past year has killed more than 100, including several police, according to state media.

Chinese Dissident Lands at Cato Institute With a Caution to Colleauges

Tamar Lewin
New York Times
Xia Yeliang, dismissed from his job as an economics professor at Peking University after clashes with his government over liberalization, warned that American universities should be careful about partnerships with Chinese universities. “They use the...

Why is the Chinese Communist Party so Afraid of Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong?

Yiyi Lu
Foreign Policy
Some fear that Xu and his fellow activists in the New Citizens Movement had formed an “anti-CCP clique”. 

Who is Xu Zhiyong?

Malcolm Moore
Telegraph
Four people whose lives were change by Xu Zhiyong describe how he helped them. 

Jailed Dissident’s Wife: ‘I Don’t Want You to Give Up’

Wall Street Journal
A public letter from the wife of Xu Zhiyong shows the emotional burden imposed on the family members of jailed dissidents.

Chinese Court Places Heavy Sentence on Prominent Activist

Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
The most closely watched trial of a Chinese dissident in years calls attention to CCP clamp down on dissent. 

Media

01.17.14

You’ve Got Mail: Chinese Communist Party Received Almost Two Million Complaints in 2013

In 2013, China’s Communist Party disciplinary organs received an eye-popping 1.95 million citizen complaints about officials. This is a 49.2 percent jump from 2012, according to a January 13 report from state-run website China News Online—but...

Paying a Price to Cross China’s Border

Perry Link
Washington Post
For Chinese critics of the government, the border long ago acquired a political toll booth: Whichever way you cross, you pay a price.

The AIDS Granny in Exile

Kathleen MacLaughlin
Buzzfeed
In her one-bedroom apartment, Dr. Gao Yaojie — known to many as “the AIDS Granny” — moves with great difficulty through her tidy clutter and stacks of belongings. In the small kitchen, she stirs a pot of rice and bean porridge, one of the few things...

Activists Challenge Beijing by Going to Dinner

China Digital Times
On the last weekend of every month, government critics gather for unassuming meals in as many as 20 cities across the country to discuss issues from failures in the legal system to unequal access to education. 

How to Deal with the Chinese Police

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
A casual visitor to China today does not get the impression of a police state. Life bustles along as people pursue work, fashion, sports, romance, amusement, and so on, without any sign of being under coercion. But the government spends tens of...

In China, Can Plutocrats Have Political Opinions?

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
China’s men and women who have made it to the top of society by being unrelentingly determined are advised by the government to relent when it comes to calling for the rule of law, adherence to the constitution, or an end to abuses of power.&...

China: “Capitulate or Things Will Get Worse”

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
The massacre of protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989, and the harsh repression during the months immediately following put China into a foul mood. Among ordinary Chinese, the prestige of the Communist Party, whose leaders had ordered the brutal...

Top Chinese University Expels Outspoken Economist

Didi Tang
Associated Press
Peking School of Economics’ Xia Yeliang was expelled for his political views and activism, including his vocal support of democracy, his involvement in the drafting of Charter 08, and his refusal to comply with government directives to de-politicize...

China Holds Two Bloggers As It Expands Crackdown on Rumors

Sui-Lee Wee
Reuters
Police in China have arrested an influential blogger and are holding a cartoonist in a widening crackdown on online “rumor-mongering”, friends and a lawyer for one of them said on Thursday October 17. 

Activist’s List of Chinese Political Arrests

Patrick Boehler
South China Morning Post
Wen Yunchao, who has been monitoring arrests and convictions in this year in China from New York City, insists his records show a growing trend of repression under Xi Jinping.  

The Confessions of a Reactionary

Teng Biao
China Change
When Xu Zhiyong and I received the “Ten People in Rule of Law in 2003” award at CCTV, neither of us, nor the two sponsors of the event would have thought that, in a few years, the two of us would become “the enemies of the state.”...

Viewpoint

09.04.13

The Confessions of a Reactionary

Teng Biao
This article first appeared in Life and Death in China (a multi-volume anthology of fifty-plus witness accounts of Chinese government persecution and thirty-plus essays by experts in human rights in China). When I wrote it [on the evening of June 3...

Citizens Movement Leader Xu Zhiyong Arrested

Associated Press
Xu is one of the founders of a loose network of campaigners known as the New Citizens Movement, who, among other things, have called for people to get together on the last Saturday of each month for dinner to discuss China’s constitution and other...

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

A Hundred Songs: Exiled Chinese Writer Liao Yiwu’s Rare U.S. Visit

WSJ: China Real Time Report
Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, recently performed at the New York Public Library for his book's U.S. release. His years in prison are the subject of his book “For a Song and a Hundred Songs,” and is a dizzying, and often gruesomely...

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...

Environment

05.30.13

China’s “NIMBY” Protests: Sign of Unequal Society

from chinadialogue
NIMBY—or “not in my backyard”—protests happen when residents attempt to protect their neighborhoods from the negative impacts of public or industrial facilities. Since the 2007 “walking protests” against a PX chemical factory in Xiamen, we have seen...

Chen Guangcheng Issues Plea For Relatives In China

Michael Bristow
BBC
“I think the U.S. government should publicly and officially ask the Chinese government to fulfill their commitments. It’s been a year now and neither side is living up to their promises following the negotiations last year.” 

Daughter of a Detained Chinese Rights Activist Speaks

Didi Kristen Tatlow
New York Times
Liao Minyue last saw her mother, the rights activist Liu Ping, in mid-April 2013. “I’m afraid she’ll be beaten. It has happened before,” Ms. Liao, 20, said by telephone. “Now I’m waiting for any news of her trial. I’ll fight for her freedom...

China Detains Activist for Subversion After Pressuring Leaders On Wealth

Sui-Lee Wee
Reuters
President Xi Jinping’s administration has detained at least 10 activists who have led a campaign for officials to publicly disclose their wealth - the first coordinated crackdown by the new government on activists. 

More Citizens Detained in China for Demanding Public Disclosure of Officials’ Personal Wealth

Yaxue Cao
Seeing Red in China
Dissident intellectuals pointed out that the regime is not afraid of what you say, no matter how strong; however, it is fearful of any form of organization and collective activities, and it has been cracking down harshly on these street...

Myanmar Emerges: The People Vs. The Power

Global Post
Under half a century of dictatorship, dissidents used the arts to express outrage that would otherwise bring them long prison sentences. Now, they're speaking out in solidarity with villagers whose anti-mine protests are captivating the nation...

Culture

05.09.13

“I Just Want to Write”

Whether or not I deserved the Nobel Prize, I already received it, and now it’s time to get back to my writing desk and produce a good work. I hear that the 2013 list of Nobel Prize nominees has been finalized. I hope that once the new laureate is...

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”)...

Ai Weiwei, China’s Useful Dissident

Matt Schiavenza
Atlantic
By enhancing his celebrity through publicity stunts, Ai has unwittingly empowered the Chinese Communist Party by outwardly conforming to its definition of a dissident: a narcissist more attuned to the whims of foreign admirers than to the interests...

Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Switches His Protest To Heavy Metal Music

Leo Lewis
Times & Sunday Times
 Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist whose 81-day “disappearance” into secret police detention ignited protest around the world, is to switch his focus to heavy metal music and release an album parodying life in modern China. 

Blogging the Slow-Motion Revolution

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Huang Qi is best known in China as the creator of the country’s first human rights website, Liusi Tianwang, or “June 4 Heavenly Web.” A collection of reports and photos, as well as the occasional first-person account of abuse, the site is updated...

Media

01.08.13

Online and Off, Social Media Users Go to War for Freedom of Press in China

When Mr. Tuo Zhen, the propaganda chief of Guangdong province, rewrote and replaced the New Year’s editorial of the Southern Weekend newspaper without the consent of its editors, he probably did not think it would make much of a splash. Indeed, Mr...

Review of Ai Weiwei at the Hirshhorn

James Panero
Wall Street Journal
Ai Weiwei will probably be regarded as the most important artist of the past decade. He is certainly its most newsworthy and arguably its most inspiring. Over the repressions of Chinese authorities, he has used a wide range of resources to broadcast...

Beijing Blocks Dissident’s Art Company

Edward Wong
New York Times
Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer friend of Ai Weiwei, the artist and frequent critic of the Communist Party, has said in an online posting that Chinese officials have revoked the business license of Mr. Ai’s art production company, Beijing Fake...

Web Posts Spur Free-Speech Debate in China

Austin Ramzy
Time
With his thin frame, shabby suit and graying hair, Chen Pingfu, who played his violin for handouts on the streets of the northwestern Chinese city of Lanzhou, hardly seemed to be a threat to anyone. But after he wrote a series of online essays...

China’s ‘Fault Lines’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Yu Jie is one of China’s most prominent essayists and critics, with more than thirty books to his name. His latest work is a biography of his friend, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, that was published in Chinese in Hong Kong a few weeks ago...

‘Pressure for Change is at the Grassroots

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
The Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in the United States last month following top-level negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials. Several weeks earlier, Chen had dramatically escaped from house arrest in his village in...

‘In the Current System, I’d Be Corrupt Too’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Bao Tong is one of China’s best-known political dissidents. In the early to mid 1980s, he was director of the Communist Party’s Office of Political Reform and the policy secretary for Zhao Ziyang, the party’s former general secretary. Just before...

London: The Triumph of the Chinese Censors

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
When I arrived at the London Book Fair on Monday, April 16, I saw a huge sign outside showing a cute Chinese boy holding an open book with the words underneath him: “China: Market Focus.” The special guest of this year’s fair was the Chinese...

Reports

05.23.12

Amnesty Internation Annual Report—China 

Amnesty International
Amnesty International surveys the landscape of human rights in China during 2011 and finds that China’s economic strength during the global financial crisis increased the country’s leverage in the domain of global human rights—mostly for the worse...

Viewpoint

05.20.12

Chen Guangcheng: A Hopeful Breakthrough?

Orville Schell
The arrival of the celebrated Chinese rights activist, Chen Guangcheng in the U.S. after years of prison and house arrest, raises the larger question of what the whole incident will come to mean in terms of the status of dissidents in China and in U...