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The Tiananmen Papers (review)
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Common Knowledge 8.1 (2002) 210

Book Review

The Tiananmen Papers

Zhang Liang, compiler, and Andrew Nathan, ed., The Tiananmen Papers (New York: Public Affairs, 2001), 513 pp.

In the past century, two comparable political movements on the streets of Beijing substantially affected the history of China: the May Fourth movement of 1919 and the Tiananmen movement of 1989. Both were initiated by students who called for democracy. The former led eventually to China's adoption of communism without democracy, and the latter led to China's virtual abandonment of communism, though still without democracy. These failures for democracy are due, at least partially, to the disingenuous shift or manipulation of the pro-democracy movements into struggles for power. This volume of Chinese government papers of the Tiananmen episode provides rich material for studying the relation between the movement on the streets and the power struggle in 1989. However, in reading the compiler's preface -- which asserts that "the pro-democracy faction in the [Communist] Party is the key force for pushing political change in China"--we may feel that the political goal of this volume is more in keeping with the power struggle than with the students' original calling.


Fang Lizhi

Fang Lizhi, former vice-president of the University of Science and Technology of China, was named "most wanted counterrevolutionary criminal" by the Chinese authorities in 1989. Following a year's refuge in the U.S. embassy, he was permitted to emigrate and has since held positions at Cambridge University, the Institute for Advanced Study, and, currently, the University of Arizona, where he is professor of physics and astronomy. Recipient of the Nicholson Medal of the American Physical Society, the Freedom Award of the International Rescue Committee, and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, he is the author of more than 230 scientific papers and author, coauthor, or editor of twenty books.