We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Perils of Protest

State Repression and Student Activism in China and Taiwan

Teresa Wright

Publication Year: 2001

China's student movement of 1989 ushered in an era of harsh political repression, crushing the hopes of those who desired a more democratic future. Communist Party elites sealed the fate of the movement, but did ill-considered choices by student leaders contribute to its tragic outcome? To answer this question, Teresa Wright centers on a critical source of information that has been largely overlooked by the dozens of works that have appeared in the past decade on the "Democracy Movement": the students themselves. Drawing on interviews and little-known first-hand accounts, Wright offers the most complete and representative compilation of thoughts and opinions of the leaders of this student action. She compares this closely studied movement with one that has received less attention, Taiwan's Month of March Movement of 1990, introducing for the first time in English a narrative of Taiwan's largest student demonstration to date. Despite their different outcomes (the Taiwan action ended peacefully and resulted in the government addressing student demands), both movements similarly maintained a strict separation between student and non-student participants and were unstable and conflict-ridden. This comparison allows for a thorough assessment of the origins and impact of student behavior in 1989 and provides intriguing new insights into the growing literature on political protest in non-democratic regimes.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.9 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (26.5 KB)
pp. vii

I am grateful to many people and institutions for their support of this project. My research could not have been conducted without the funding of the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, the Simpson Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor’s for Research Fund, and a summer stipend from California State University, Long Beach. In addition, the Department of...

read more

Chapter 1. Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (51.4 KB)
pp. 1-7

For three long months in the spring of 1989, the unfolding Democracy Movement in mainland China entranced the world. When former Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang died on April 15, students and citizens poured into the streets in mourning, soon transformed into more organized calls for an end to party corruption and increased political and economic...

read more

Chapter 2. The Political Environment of Students in China and Taiwan

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.7 KB)
pp. 8-20

The outcomes of China’s Democracy Movement of 1989 and Taiwan’s Month of March movement of 1990 could hardly have been more different. In China, the student protests were brutally crushed, initiating a period of harsh repression toward any and all attempts at autonomous or dissident organization. Across the straits, in contrast, student demonstrators met with...

read more

Chapter 3. Student Mobilization and Organization in China, April 15–May 10, 1989

pdf iconDownload PDF (202.3 KB)
pp. 21-56

Studies of the Democracy Movement of 1989 in China generally agree on the basic behavior of the student protestors: they insisted on a separation of students and nonstudents; their demands and actions were loyal and reformist in nature; and their organizations were marked by continual divisions and changes. To explain the students’ exclusion of nonstudents from...

read more

Chapter 4. Student Mobilization and Organization in China, May 11– June 4, 1989

pdf iconDownload PDF (145.9 KB)
pp. 57-94

Initiated on May 14, the hunger strike pushed the movement to a new level of intensity and conflict. First, the locus of the movement shifted to Tiananmen Square. Previously, the students had engaged only in marches to the Square, holding brief sit-ins or rallies. Now the movement became fixed (dingdiande), with virtually all student organizations and activities focused...

read more

Chapter 5. Student Mobilization and Organization in Taiwan, March 1990

pdf iconDownload PDF (213.0 KB)
pp. 95-128

During the Month of March movement in Taiwan, students behaved in much the same way as they had in mainland China. In both cases, students relied on peaceful methods of protest, occupied the central square in the capital, and petitioned the government for political reform. More important, students in both movements displayed a great concern with maintaining...

read more

Chapter 6. Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.5 KB)
pp. 129-137

The findings of the preceding chapters shed new light on the process and outcome of the student movement of 1989 in Beijing. Overall, although cultural and historical traditions as well as idiosyncratic personality traits certainly shaped student behavior, it was the state that exerted the most profound influence on their strategies and actions. Specifically, the fear and...

Appendix A. Autonomous Student Organizations in Beijing, Spring 1989

pdf iconDownload PDF (35.4 KB)
pp. 141

Appendix B. “Letter to All University Students”

pdf iconDownload PDF (40.5 KB)
pp. 142-143

Appendix C. Autonomous Student Organizations in Taipei, Spring 1990

pdf iconDownload PDF (33.4 KB)
pp. 144


pdf iconDownload PDF (121.3 KB)
pp. 145-174


pdf iconDownload PDF (61.9 KB)
pp. 175-183


pdf iconDownload PDF (57.9 KB)
pp. 185-192

E-ISBN-13: 9780824864927
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824823481

Publication Year: 2001