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Citizens Movement in China, June 2, 2019 In the hearts of millions of people, there is a collective memory that has been suppressed for 30 years. How to awaken this memory, and confront our nation’s historical wounds? How to exorcise the haze of authoritarianism that has plagued this great land for millenia past? How to break out from the totalitarian blockade, and set free the cry of our soul? Pleas for exoneration? No, we will not get on our knees to beg. Furious condemnation? An exercise in futility. We must not get on our knees to beg for exoneration, and anger-filled condemnations are exercises in futility. If we are to fundamentally part with the barbaric authoritarian past, we must purge the terror that predominates in […]


Hu Ping, November 19, 2018   Recently, there have been two hot topics in China: the Sino-U.S. trade war and the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening up. We have noticed that many people in the system have written articles or made speeches enthusiastically praising Deng Xiaoping while covertly and in some cases even openly criticizing Xi Jinping. They believe that in bringing back lifelong leadership terms and the cult of personality, abandoning Deng’s policy of “hiding one’s capabilities and biding one’s time” (韬光养晦) and promoting state-owned businesses over private firms, Xi Jinping has significantly deviated from Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening up. For this year’s May 4th anniversary, Fan Liqin (樊立勤), a Peking University alumnus and an old friend of […]


China Change, October 31, 2018 This is part of China Change’s new interview series that seeks to understand the effort of civil society in bringing change to China over the past 30 years. The interview was conducted in June 2018 by Yaxue Cao, editor of this website, at Professor Xu Youyu’s home in Flushing, New York City. — The Editors     Yaxue Cao (YC): Professor Xu, would you mind first introducing yourself to our readers? Xu Youyu (XY): My name is Xu Youyu (徐友渔); I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in 1947. I was in the graduating class at the Chengdu No. 1 Secondary School in 1966 when the Cultural Revolution erupted — right when I was enrolling for the national college entrance […]


Wu Renhua, June 4, 2018   The June 4 massacre once shocked the world — but because the Communist Party made it a forbidden area of enquiry, there are still numerous controversies around the massacre, despite it having taken place 29 years ago. Following are some of the major sources of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the events of June 4, 1989. Was There a Counterrevolutionary Rebellion in Beijing? To provide a seemingly reasonable justification for the bloody military suppression in the capital, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities emphasized that a violent insurrection was afoot, and that the martial law troops had no choice but to put it down. To this day, the CCP’s claims still deceive a great many people. But in fact, proving […]


October 25, 2017   Yaxue Cao sat down with Wang Dan (王丹) on September 27 and talked about his past 28 years since 1989: the 1990s, Harvard, teaching in Taiwan, China’s younger generation, his idea for a think tank, his books, assessment of current China, Liu Xiaobo, and the New School for Democracy. –– The Editors     YC: Wang Dan, sitting down to do an interview with you I’m feeling nostalgic, because as soon as I close my eyes the name Wang Dan brings back the image of that skinny college student with large glasses holding a megaphone in a sea of protesters on Tiananmen Square. That was 1989. Now you have turned 50. So having this interview with you outside a cafe in […]


Liao Yiwu, June 2, 2017     (Continued from Part One)   LIAO: I’ve heard some people say that if they had known blood was going to be shed, they would not have resisted. YU ZHIJIAN: It was the student’s Command Center that turned us over [to the authorities]. The guy who headed the UAA Guards was called Guo Haifeng. He told us his name himself — you have to give him credit for being pretty open and candid. He said that the UAA standing committee members took a vote, with the majority deciding to send us off to the Public Security Bureau of the Eastern Quarter Branch Tiananmen office. He had strongly opposed the decision. After an impassioned debate, he was overruled and, what’s […]


Liao Yiwu, June 1, 2017   On the afternoon of May 23, 1989, sitting at home in a small town in Sichuan, poet Liao Yiwu watched in awe scenes from Beijing just after “three hooligans from Hunan” threw paint-filled eggs at the portrait of Mao Zedong, sized 6 by 4.6 meters, hanging on Tiananmen (the Gate of Celestial Peace). Increasingly astonished and impressed, once the full significance of the act sunk in Liao Yiwu came to regard it as the most singular event during the 1989 movement — second perhaps only to the Tank Man. Liao himself, a rebellious poet publishing in underground magazines during the 1980s, would be imprisoned too for writing and performing a long poem titled “The Massacre.” On a sultry and […]


Wu Renhua, May 29, 2017   Wu Renhua (吳仁華) is a unique scholar. For over 20 years he has been immersed in the primary source materials about what Chinese authorities call “the June 4th incident,” and what is known around the world as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. His academic training of nearly a decade was in ancient Chinese historiography — a set of research methodologies that he never expected he would apply to unraveling the genesis, execution, and aftermath of the bloody slaughter of unarmed students and Beijing residents in 1989. Wu was a junior faculty member of the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing at the time of the protests, in which he was also a participant. He was one of […]


By @badiucao, June 5, 2016     I choose art to resist — to fight terror and to remember. I once drew the Tank Man, and I also have Tank Man tattoo. This year I decided to use performance art to bring the Tank Man back, in the hope that, tomorrow, there’ll be even more Tank Men. All I know of the Tank Man is his plain white shirt, his black trousers, his leather shoes, and the plastic bag and briefcase he carried. The only thing he left the world was that view of him from behind. I don’t know the real identity of the Tank Man. There’s a rumour that his name is Wang Weilin, but no one really knows. Who he was before […]


June 4, 2016   (Continued from Part One) Wu: Another find that was very exciting was to discover the chief of staff of the 38th Group Army’s 1st Tank Division. This chief of staff led the spearhead of that tank division, the 1st Regiment of armored infantrymen and the 1st Regiment, the very first tanks to arrive in Tiananmen Square, including the three tanks involved in the massacre at Liubukou. This chief of staff was eager to carry out orders and show his “politically correctness.” In all the military propaganda materials celebrating his “heroic achievements,” he was only ever referred to as “Chief of Staff Yan.” They described how he repeatedly ordered for forcing advancement, and his troops shot dead a student attempting to obstruct […]


June 3, 2016 In 1989, Mr. Wu Renhua was a young faculty member at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, leading the student demonstration along with other young scholars. He participated in the Tiananmen Movement “from the first day to the last,” and was among the last few thousand protesters who left Tiananmen Square in the early morning of June 4. On the way back to his college, he witnessed PLA tanks charging into a file of students at Liubukou (六部口), a large intersection, killing 11 and injuring many. In February, 1990, Wu swam four hours from Zhuhai to Macau, and onto Hong Kong, and arrived later that year in the United States. Over the next 15 years he was the editor […]


By Yaxue Cao, May 11, 2016     Former Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen (钱其琛) wrote a memoir titled Ten Episodes in China’s Diplomacy soon after retiring in 2003. With sweeping promotion by the Party’s propaganda apparatus that directs much of the state media, it became a bestseller. One of the ten episode deals with the China-U.S. diplomacy after the June 4th Massacre. Of course, that’s an objectionable term for the Chinese Communist Party, so Mr. Qian refers to it as “[that period] in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.” The English edition was published in 2006 by HarperCollins, with the endorsement of Harvard professor Ezra Vogel, who proofread the translation and provided a foreword.     By Qian’s account, on June 21, 1989, a […]


Open Letter from Chinese Human Rights Lawyers to Republican Candidate Donald Trump March 15, 2016   According to CNN, at the televised Republican debate on March 10 the moderator put the following question to billionaire Donald Trump: “Some of your Republican critics have expressed concern about comments you have made praising authoritarian dictators. You have said positive things about Putin as a leader and about China’s massacre of pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square, you’ve said: ‘When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it, then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.’ How do you respond?” Trump replied: “That doesn’t mean I was endorsing that. I was not […]


March 11, 2016     We are appalled by the U. S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks about the Chinese government’s 1989 massacre during the 12th Republican presidential candidate debate last Thursday, in which he called the heroic pro-democracy protest in Beijing a “riot”, and praised the Chinese government’s response as “strong.” Trump’s comments show not only a lack of moral orientation, but also show a complete disregard for the hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives lost when the Chinese government butchered unarmed students and citizens in Tiananmen Square on June 3-4, 1989. Many of us participated in that peaceful demonstration, and we know that we were merely exercising our basic rights to protest and our rights for free speech. We petitioned the government […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: December 21, 2015 “Pu Zhiqiang has many facets to his character. He is a rights lawyer, an Internet opinion leader, and a dissident, in the broader sense of the word. His commitments and pursuits over the past 26 years help to explain how Pu has come to be so influential.”     On December 14, 2015, renowned human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) was tried by the Beijing Number Two People’s Court on charges of “provoking a serious disturbance” and “inciting ethnic hatred.” This case has been watched closely ever since Pu was first detained in May 2014. On the day of the trial hearing, diplomats from the United States, the European Union, and other foreign governments went to read statements […]


By Wang Yaqiu, published: June 4, 2015   Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) In the spring of 1989, Dr. Liu Xiaobo left Columbia University where he was a visiting scholar and went back to Beijing to take part in the democracy movement.  In Tiananmen Square, he became a leader and a mentor, drafting open letters, giving speeches and leading a hunger strike. Liu Xiaobo was instrumental in preventing further bloodshed by negotiating with the troops and persuading students to evacuate the Tiananmen Square in the early hours of June 4th. After the crackdown, Liu was identified by the Chinese government as one of the instigators of the “turmoil” and jailed for two years. After being released in 1991, Liu published articles and gave interviews, urging the Chinese […]


By Hu Ping, translated by Matthew Robertson, June 2, 2015 “What we need to grasp is that the existence of a political system that is so perverse in its reason, and so unfair and unjust to its subjects, is an open taunt to the conscience and sense of justice of humanity. The international rise of that system, too, is perforce a threat to freedom and world peace.”     Twenty-six years ago in China, a peaceful civil movement of unprecedented proportions suddenly blossomed, demonstrating once and for all that democracy in China wasn’t the special province of a few dissidents, but the deepest wish of millions. But before long the movement was brutally crushed by the Chinese Communist Party’s hardline faction, headed by Party leader Deng […]


By Kong Tsung Gan, published: May 31, 2015 (an abbreviated version of the original)   “The brazen cynicism and lack of courage of the governments of democratic countries have been deeply disheartening – whether they know it or not, they live in the shadow of June 4, their actions and decisions trapped in the dialectic events that day set in motion.”   1. On the night of September 28, 2014, a rumor circulated that the HK police would escalate their use of violence from tear gas to live ammunition. “Scary green men” were seen prowling the streets of Admiralty, where the police had first attacked the people with an hours-long barrage of tear gas canisters. The scary green men were HK police, but we’d never […]


By a group of overseas Chinese students, letter penned by Gu Yi, published: May 27, 2015 This letter, written in Chinese, has been circulating through email groups and on social media since May 20. Yesterday the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times gave it a free publicity push – double strength (here and here). – The Editor   We are a group of Chinese students born in the 1980s and 1990s and now studying abroad. Twenty-six years ago on June 4th, young students, in life’s prime with innocent love for their country just as we are today, died under the gun of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing’s streets. This part of history has since been so carefully edited and shielded away that many of us today know […]


By China Change, published: March 31, 2015   In Sichuan, activist Chen Yunfei (陈云飞) has been missing since March 25 after he and 20 or so others “swept” graves of two college students who died in Beijing during the Tiananmen Massacre in June, 1989. The group was in Shuangliu county (双流县) and then Xinjin county (新津县) where were rounded up by police and taken to local police stations for questioning. All have since been released except for Chen Yunfei. Chen Yunfei’s family has not received any document from the authorities about his status. On March 30, lawyer Ran tong (冉彤), per request of Chen’s relatives, visited the public security bureau and the detention center in Xinjin to ascertain Chen Yunfei’s whereabouts, but the authorities told […]


By China Change, published: January 12, 2015   Shortly before June 4th, 2014, ten in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, were arrested for holding a public memorial for Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳). Seven of them have since been released, and three have remained in custody for over six months now without an indictment. The 47-year-old Yu Shiwen, who organized the memorial along with his wife Chen Wei, suffered a stroke. Recently, the public security once again urged indictment for the three. Yu’s case has drawn attention from participants, inside and outside China, of the Tian’anmen democracy movement 25 years ago. On February 2nd, 2014, Yu Shiwen, Chen Wei, and a group of Henan-based citizens held a memorial in Hua County, Henan provicnce (河南滑县), to remember Zhao […]


By China Change, published: June 26, 2014   Apart from Beijing and Guangzhou, the other Chinese city where large-scale arrests of citizen activists and rights lawyers have taken place is Zhengzhou (郑州), midway on the Beijing-Guangzhou transportation artery and the capital of Henan province (河南省).  Between May 8 and June 21, twelve have been arrested for allegations either of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” or of “provoking disturbance” and they include two rights lawyers, two journalists, young internet activists, petitioner-turned-activists, and hosts of civil gatherings and activities, a typical array of China’s social activism in general. One can say that the June 4th anniversary prompted the arrests that occurred across China over the last two months or so because the CCP was afraid […]


By Fengsuo Zhou, Yaxue Cao, published: June 11, 2014 Henry Degroot is a student at Newton North High School, Massachusetts. He wrote a pro-democracy note in a Chinese student’s notebook during an exchange program in Beijing and signed it. A Chinese teacher found out. Henry was detained for five hours, forced to apologize by his American teachers, and, back to America, the school barred him from prom.   As two naturalized Chinese Americans and democracy advocates, we feel compelled to offer our perspectives on Boston Globe’s recent story Newton student penalized for democracy notes in China. Fengsuo Zhou was a student leader during the Tian’anmen Square democracy movement in 1989, No.5 on Chinese government’s wanted list when the movement was crushed by tanks and machine […]


By Fang Zheng, published: June 4, 2014   A Disabled Athlete to Represent China, or Maybe Not With the help of Wu Bei (吴蓓), a teacher at Beijing Steel and Iron College who also witnessed the Liubukou massacre, I settled in Hainan and worked for the real estate company run by Ms. Wu’s husband. After a while, I opened a small convenience shop on the premises of the residential development where I lived. In Hainan, I continued to train myself. In 1993, Hainan’s Disabled Persons’ Federation took me to two national tryout competitions that selected athletes to attend the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled in September, 1994, in Beijing. I was chosen. In May 1994, the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) […]


China is expected to become the No. 1 economy in the world soon. China represents 1/5 of the human race. And China is an one-party dictatorship. What does it mean for the world, for the U.S., and for us as individuals?    May 26, 2014   Lately not a day has passed without me stopping in the middle of something, gripped by disbelief: It’s been 25 years since the Tian’anmen democracy movement in 1989, and today, in 2014, I cannot believe that China is still under authoritarianism that seems to be going stronger than ever. At China Change, that disbelief is enhanced in other ways as well: young people born around 1989 are now being locked up in jail, or punished, for fighting the same […]


By China Change, published: May 18, 2014   In Guangzhou, renowned rights lawyer Tang Jingling (唐荆陵) was criminally detained on May 16, for “provoking disturbance,” according to weiquanwang, a primary website reporting on China’s rights defense events. His wife told weiquanwang that, around 10 o’clock Friday evening, seven or eight police officers entered her home, displaying a search warrant and notice of criminal detention. The police searched the home for about two hours during which, lawyer Tang Jingling and his wife were told not to move and not to make or answer phone calls. The police took away Tang Jingling, his desktop computer, laptop, three cell  phones, some books, and holiday cards from friends. During the days leading up to Friday’s detention, Tang Jingling had […]


By Rose Tang, published: March 24, 2014 The letter was originally posted by the author on her Facebook page. We thank her for her permission to allow China Change to repost it. –The Editor   Dear Michelle: I wasn’t the only Chinese who was totally disappointed by your speech at Peking University on Saturday. You did not mention a word about the university being a birthplace of China’s major pro-democracy movements since the early 20th century and a base for some of the country’s most prominent human rights activists, including Cao Shunli and Xu Zhiyong. You didn’t say a word about them. Legal scholar Cao died six days before you landed in Beijing. Cao, aged 53 (only three years older than you), had been detained for six […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: June 4, 2013 By all means, the student movement in the spring of 1989, from its emergence to its development, was a surprise. It started with the sudden death of Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), the reform-minded CCP General Secretary who had recently been taken down by Deng Xiaoping, China’s real ruler at the time. It escalated when People’s Daily published the editorial entitled “We Must Take an Unwavering Stand against Unrest” on April 26, and climaxed with the controversial hunger strike in Tian’anmen Square. Before April 15, 1989, no one had seen such a magnificent student movement coming, let alone its cruel and bloody ending. Today, looking back 24 years later, some things have changed forever and will never be repeated, but […]


By Yaxue Cao, January 15, 2013 An exile returns to his 86-year-old mother and family.                                                                                                                                                                                          In the morning of November 27, 2012, after tweeting “Good morning, tweeps!” to his friends on Twitter, Mr. […]


Zhu Chengzhi  (朱承志)’s offense has to do with the death of Li Wangyang (李旺阳), a labor movement leader during the June 4th movement in 1989 who had served two prison terms totaling 21 years. In the morning of June 6th this year, while receiving treatment for heart disease and diabetes in a local hospital in Shaoyang, Hunan (湖南邵阳), Li Wangyang was found hanged from a window frame by a strip of bed sheet. The 62-year-old Zhu Chengzhi is a retiree-turned-activist in Shaoyang and an old schoolmate and close friend of Li Wangyang. In the next two days following Li’s death, Zhu Chengzhi took pictures, shot video, of the death scene, and published them online. Meanwhile, he provided updates on Twitter and called frantically for legal assistance to deal […]


When former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), sacked by Deng Xiaoping for his bolder calls for re-evaluating the past and reforming for the future, died on April 15, 1989, college students in Beijing began a wave of memorials to express their sadness and anger. Soon the students were on the street demanding freedom and democracy. Quickly the movement spread to cities all over China and to people from all walks of life. On June 4th, it ended with guns, tanks and deaths. At the time I lived in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and was among the few in China that had the news coming from Hong Kong TV. I remember, among the last images available, bulldozers rolling over the makeshift tents in […]


By Yaxue Cao, January 23, 2012   I registered a Twitter account two months ago, but didn’t start actively using it until my Sina Weibo was blocked in mid-December. Since then, I have made 600 plus tweets (including a lot of retweets and some replies) and been following over 200 people as of now. Every so often, I feel like sitting in a bustling tea house, the southern kind where all windows are flung open and a steady stream of people come in and out of the door, alone at a corner table, occasionally joined by one or the other of the two friends I have, listening to conversations twirling around me and, over time, getting to “know” some of the frequenters as well as […]


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