Political analysts and historians generally agree that the l989 democratic uprising in China was both historic and significant, beginning with the unexpected death on April 15 of Hu Yaobang, reform leader and once party secretary, and continuing through mid-June 1989. Although some commentators regard the uprising as "unprecedented, not only since the Communist Party took over in l949, but also in the entire history of China" (Binyan, Ming, and Gang, 1989: 124), few agree on the overall success of the campaign and its significance in the history of nonviolence. Even seven years after the government's murderous assault on the demonstrators, the full implications of the events, particularly beyond the confines of Tiananmen Square, often go unrecognized.
In an effort to correct what seems to me a deficiency in most accounts and evaluations--or at least to argue for factors not always included, I have chosen to look at the uprising within the context of Chinese history and culture and in relation to essential elements regarding nonviolent theory and strategy. In doing so, I emphasize what seem to me to be obvious truths: (l) that the students' ability to sustain a concerted, though often improvised, national campaign for as long as they did was a major achievement in Chinese, not to say human, history; (2) that a fuller understanding of that achievement is possible only if one moves beyond Beijing to the whole country; and (3) that peace researchers, particularly, need to attend to the implications of the uprising, if they are to understand nonviolence in cultural contexts around the world. Failing to attend to those implications, in fact, deprives those who daily risk their lives for justice, in specific regions and cultures, of valuable insights about strategy and "people power" in recent history and for the future.
Since l989, several commentators--most notably Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins--have asked important questions about the uprising, including possible alternative strategies (Sharp, 1989: 1-3; Ackerman & Kruegler, 1994: 342-3). Might the killing have been averted, for example, if student leaders had held to their original plan of vacating the square earlier? What might have been offered by more experienced nonviolent theorists and activists to students at the time? Were there means of containing the violence, the weapons and Molotov cocktails employed by some demonstrators (provocateurs planted by the government?) that legitimized, to some extent, a violent response? Why did the government move so vehemently against workers, in its unnecessarily brutal response to the uprising?
Such questions are difficult to pose, in the midst of on-going repression, imprisonment, and exile of dissidents in China, but anyone seriously concerned about the nature of nonviolence must attempt, nonetheless, to address them. Gandhi asked and addressed such questions, as he pushed forward, then retreated, in the face of massive violence by the British in India; so did Martin Luther King, amid death threats and killings during the civil rights campaign in the South; so have other activists during recent justice struggles in the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, South Africa. Anyone who makes judgments about the dynamics of nonviolent movements, in fact, must face these complex, demanding questions.
The Chinese uprising is important for another, broader reason, as well, particularly as we face the challenges of a changing world order. In speaking about this condition, Richard Falk, Princeton University, accurately described the choice before us as being between "globalization from above" and "globalization from below" (Fulk:1992). By the first, he meant "a terrifying mixture of global apartheid and eco-fascism" and by the second, "an ethos of nonviolence, democracy, and eco-feminism." The third alternative, "a future shaped by democratic forces without significant resistance from entrenched market/state forces," Professor Falk thought an unlikely choice, a sentiment that anyone familiar with recent developments in the U.S., Russia, China, and elsewhere, is likely to agree with. Whatever the limitations of the campaign initiated by the students in China, its consequences were generally salutary for nonviolent, democratic social change, and its long-term effects are everywhere evident.
In the history of nonviolence, the uprising offers a number of insights into how reformers might proceed in the future. As with any effective nonviolent campaign, it also provided, for anyone paying attention, new information not only about the limitations of the present government, but also about possible strategies for people involved in necessary reform in that country and in similar settings.
As a nation embodying a fourth of the world's population, China will remain a powerful influence on choices at every level between "globalization from above" and "globalization from below." Few countries dramatize more powerfully the spread of free market practices and the effects, some disastrous, in the alliance between local power and global wealth. Economic changes in China since l985, brought on by inflation and a "get rich quick" ethic resemble, in fact, growing disparities between rich and poor in the U.S., particularly during the Reagan and Bush administrations.
One might say, also, that the political fall-out from recent administrations in the U.S.--lying and corruption among high-ranking officials, government control of the press during in the Gulf war, increases in violent crime--are mirrored, even magnified, in China during the same period. Whatever the case, any movement for social change as massive as the uprising of l989, involving almost every university and millions of people throughout provincial capitals and other urban centers, carries special meaning for all of us. And details about the way it was conducted and about how nonviolent strategy worked (or didn't work) at a particular moment deserve careful study.
Commenting on a country as large as China or a campaign as multifaceted and complex as the l989 uprising, one must begin, nonetheless, with this disclaimer: at some given moment, all things that have been reported about the country and the movement were probably true. And one generalizes about the uprising while thinking of all the contrary evidence. In Chinese history and culture, conflicting ideas or truths live side by side, so it is best to acknowledge them, even as one moves toward a judgment or conclusion. For that reason, it is well to keep in mind many elements across a wide cultural spectrum, including the randomness or incompleteness of data. Even the popular opinion that peasants neither supported, nor involved themselves in the uprising, for example, deserves more careful examination. Although probably not among the "June 4" students and workers, peasants demonstrated in Beijing at the time, complaining that the party that "wants our tax money, grain, and unborn children," has not come across with cash payments for goods and services.
An initial and important point in evaluating the uprising is to regard it as part of a process, both violent and nonviolent, in a century-long effort rightly described by Jonathan Spence as "the search for modern China" (Spence, 1982:1990).4 Without reviewing all the cultural elements that influenced the democratic uprising, three conditions seem to me essential in judging it from a nonviolent perspective. (l) that the uprising is best seen as one in a series of efforts--not unique, but certainly special--for fundamental social change, from the late l9th century to the present; (2) that it effectively addressed cultural power, as well as military, political, or economic power, to use Johan Galtung's useful identification of the various forces that must be addressed in "making peace" (Galtung, 1991); and (3) that it was a truly national movement, with rather different configurations in major cities and regions beyond the capital city.
Although China has a tradition of student protest, even of organized dissent, it has no tradition of nonviolence, in the sense that that some imperial cultures and countries do--from Quakers in Pennsylvania to Adin Ballou, Martin Luther King, and Catholic Workers in the U.S.; from Tolstoy and the Christian anarchists to the recent nonviolent response to the coup in Russia; from Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave to campaigns for land reform in India. The absence of a tradition of nonviolence, in the philosophic as opposed to strategic sense, was reflected not only in the students' lack of knowledge about concept and praxis--including how to conduct a fast--but also in the way the government responded to them. That on-going conversation between the state and nonviolent activists over conscientious objection to military service and war taxes, which began centuries ago in England and the U.S. seems, at least, to have few parallels in China.
There, as among some of the warring tribes in Europe, the victor in struggles for power or with dissenters often simply annihilates the opponent. In an ancient rivalry between Beijing (northern capital) and Nanjing (southern capital), in several dynasties, for example, northern conquerors leveled the "defeated" city. In the l920s, Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang, after agreeing to an alliance, murdered the Communists, who retaliated in kind once they came to power in l949.
Transitions--even within institutions--or sharing of power between one regime and the next is seldom orderly in modern Chinese history, from the perspective of most Westerners, at least. And the compromise that one hoped for (which the students allowed for and Zhao Ziyang, the relatively liberal and reformist party secretary, apparently argued for) seems never to have occurred to Deng Xiaoping and "the Gang of Old," who ordered the repression, and Li Peng, the premier, who carried it out. In crushing the rebellion, Deng reverted to tactics that he had used against the Hundred Flowers Campaign in l957, against those who called for democratic reform in l979, and against Hu Yaobang and student demonstrations in l986-87.
After the latter "democracy" campaign, the party bragged about the wisdom of suppressing "bourgeois liberalization," a reference to student pro-democracy demonstrations the previous fall--much as it did later, in "re-writing" (or attempting to rewrite) the history of the l989 uprising. A government publication giving the party line in l987, for example, said that "facts" showed its policies toward "bourgeois liberalization" were "correct, in keeping the struggle strictly inside the Communist Party, of carrying it out mainly in the political and ideological spheres, of directing the efforts at solving problems of political principle and orientation, of not turning it into a political movement and not linking the struggle to economic reforms or extending it to involve the countryside, and of conducting only positive education in enterprises, government offices and army units" (Bejing Review, June 1987: 4).
Having escaped harsh criticism by the international community in l987, Deng Xiaoping perhaps did not expect it two years later, particularly from countries such as France and Australia. In l989, remorseless attempts to re-write the history of the uprising, which began even before June 4 on television, failed miserably, not only among the international community, but also among a surprisingly large percentage of the Chinese people. In a representative incident after June 4, reported by Liu Binyan--a famous journalist, now in exile--a movie audience, viewing scenes of the Kuomintang police using water cannons against demonstrating students in the l930s, shouted out, "They were not nearly as bad as the People's Liberation Army!"
One of the many "victories" of the uprising, in fact, was the united front with which workers, merchants, journalists, and intellectuals, resisted the extensive efforts at political propaganda and re-education by the party ever since. Persistent reports about laborers resisting the government continue, as in the case of Han Dongfang; "an ordinary railroad worker who never went to college," he was imprisoned after heading a workers' federation during the l989 uprising, was infected with tuberculosis, then was released, to risk prison again by encouraging an independent workers' movement for reform.5 After a time in the U.S., he has returned to Hong Kong, continuing his efforts, while awaiting the change of administration there.
Deng's reasons for putting down the uprising (though not for murdering participants) are understandable, if not convincing. Terrible chaos, if even a small percentage of the population decided to rebel, is likely, perhaps inevitable in China. (l0% of the population means 120,000,000 people or half the population of the U.S.) In addition, harsh measures for punishing wrong-doers is generally tolerated by the populace. Public executions occur still in some areas; and Amnesty International is still not allowed to investigate prison conditions throughout the country.
Having said this, I must also add that not a single Chinese I spoke with in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Harbin before and after June 4--or subsequently--expected the government to murder the demonstrators; the people I interviewed included Chinese citizens who were sympathetic to the party until l985, if increasingly cynical about its policies after l987.
When they joined the movement, students, faculty, and party members who signed wall posters or gave speeches on campuses and in the cities understood, nonetheless, that they would probably be disciplined in some way for the protests. Political retaliation by the party has been common during political shifts since l949 and indeed throughout China's history. Yet the intensity and immediacy of the repression shocked everyone. I will long remember, for example, the deep depression that overcame one of my closest friends--a congenital optimist--the morning after Li Peng's speech on May 21, which called for "resolute and powerful measures to curb turmoil." Although he continued to support the movement openly, he anticipated something approaching the "powerful measures" launched on the early morning of June 4, "to put an end to such chaos," as Li Peng put it.6 Similarly, the only time I have seen a Chinese man cry in public was the morning of June 4, as an American literature scholar from a major university in Shanghai, tears running down his cheeks, told me about his worries for his son in Beijing and for his country.
In the meantime, students throughout the country had initiated a remarkably effective challenge to the government and, by mid-May, had elicited an incredible response from thousands of potentially unsympathetic by-standers. Arriving in Shanghai on May l6, the same day as Gorbachev--the first Soviet head of state to meet with a Chinese head of state in thirty years--I was stunned to find so many townspeople among the students participating in and otherwise supporting the demonstrators throughout the city. Some merchants and particularly workers, as I observed teaching in China in l984-5 and again in l987, can be rather contemptuous of the "elite," that is the l-2% of the population educated beyond high school.
Surely, I thought, observing or joining the crowds in Shanghai and Nanjing in late May, something very unusual has occurred: student organizers have succeeded in getting merchants and workers not only to sympathize with their protest, but actually to join them. How did that happen? In answering that question, I shall focus on events in regions of the country outside Beijing, especially capitals of two provinces that are among the richest in agriculture and industry: Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on the Yangtze River, 200 miles west of Shanghai; and Harbin, Heilongjiang province, 700 hundred miles northeast of Beijing.
The day after my arrival in China, l00,000 protesters poured into Nanjing's
Gu Lou Square (China's Times Square or at least its Chicago Loop), and taxi
cab drivers, including the driver I had counted on to take me from the railroad
station to my residence, formed a protective cordon between the demonstrators
and the city traffic. More surprisingly, people standing on the sidewalks in
that city of 3.5 million applauded students who walked daily from the gates
of the many colleges and universities to Gu Lou, for rallies and speeches; and
side-walk cafe owners gave food and drink to the students, who eventually initiated
a hunger strike, similar to the earlier one in Beijing. In communicating their
message--criticizing corruption, nepotism, and political censorship, the students
devised a variety of methods, some traditional, some new. The traditional ones
were the handsomely-lettered signs identifying the universities and organizations;
other signs repeated statements used in the historic May 4, l9l9, movement,
which provoked a renaissance in literature, and led to the birth of the Communist
party. The fact that the seventieth anniversary of that event fell during the
l989 campaign obviously gave resonance to the students' nationalistic slogans.
This time, as in l9l9, responding to the Versailles treaty, students throughout
the country called government officials to judgment, while pledging themselves
Similarly, wall posters, which had been used so effectively in the l979 "Democracy Wall" movement, covered the bulletin boards at the university gates, many signed by faculty, with names added day by day. As Dru Gladney has said, the symbols employed by the students "called upon the revolutionary history of China from the May 4 movement of l9l9 to the Cultural Reovolution, by drawing upon texts that were immediately obvious to their audience" (Gladney, 1992, 99).7 While some used quotations from Martin Luther King ("I have a dream" and "We shall overcome"), Lord Acton ("Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"), or Henry David Thoreau (pleas for civil disobedience), most of them relied--wisely--on Chinese writers, including Chairman Mao, but particularly those associated with resistance to injustice, such as Lu Xun (l881-l936), the country's most famous short story writer, as well as a poet and essayist and Bei Dao (b. 1950). The students' nationalism was reflected as well, according to Andrew J. Nathan, in statements emphasizing the value of the state above their own lives: a tradition that goes back to Qu Yuan, "who had lived in the fourth century B.C., and who committed suicide to show his loyalty to the ruler who failed to heed his advice." That precedent may have influenced their choice of tactics, also, more than "the examples of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Corazon Aquino, so often mentioned in the Western media."
Bei Dao, a well-known contemporary author living in exile in England, was represented by quotations from his poem "The Answer" or "The Response." In that verse, a rebel speaks defiantly, in a final gesture of independence, before the court:
Before sentencing, I will speak my piece,
announcing to the world, I accuse!
Although you trod a thousand resisters under foot,
I shall be the one thousand and first...
And if a continent is to rise up
Let humanity choose a new path.
Glittering stars, like a good omen, decorate the sky,
resembeling 5000-year old Chinese characters,
And the gazing eyes of the young.
The argument and tone of the poem, characteristically Chinese, echo important cultural themes, particularly the confidence of a people who regard themselves as the center of the world (Guongguo--"the middle kingdom") and the highly romantic impulse at the heart of their "democracy" cry.
Each morning, wakened by the romantic strains of the "Internationale" over the campus loud speaker, I could not help wishing that students would choose the more pragmatic approach of the American colonists, with their slogan, "No taxation without representation," rather than the more abstract, emotionally charged slogan of the French revolutionists, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity."
In a similar way, the powerful symbolism of the "goddess of democracy" in Tiananmen Square may have antagonized those whom the students were trying to get to identify with them and to win over to their position. Although it obviously evoked strong sentiment from students, who posed for pictures in front of the statue, and from an international television audience, the "goddess," with its obvious similarities to the State of Liberty, may have further distanced the students from their elders and dissipated the nationalistic spirit that informed their movement. As a nonviolent strategy, in other words, choosing the "goddess of democracy" as a key image may have been counter-productive in the long run. One wonders what might have happened if the artists had sculpted instead a statue of Lu Xun, a hero to party as well as to non-party members, though apparently "too much deified by the party," according to one young scholar, to serve as an appropriate symbol for students. Lu Xun's witty, yet powerful aphorisms on social justice are nonetheless part of the iconography of the country's agonizing accommodation to the 20th century; and officials might think twice about ordering bull-dozers in to crush a statue of him, as they did with the goddess of democracy, no matter the "rebellious" uses employed in remembering Lu Xun's legacy. As the weeks went by, foreign observers and some Chinese criticized the demonstrators for not being specific about their goals and strategies--and with good reason. At that time and since, nonetheless, it is important to emphasize how much and how quickly the students learned about conducting a nonviolent campaign during the "China Spring" and over the previous ten years. One must wonder, also, how many of their critics have been as faithful or as effective, in addressing basic political issues and campaigning for justice in less threatening circumstances; and are we still expecting young people, rather than experienced, sophisticated people like ourselves, to provide the leadership for social change?
My point here is that, within a certain sphere of influence, young students were remarkably effective in moving their fellow citizens to resistance and along the rocky, sometimes circular path to freedom of the press and democratic reform. In thinking about similar struggles in the West, one must remember how long and multi-faceted that journey has been in the Western imperial democracies, from John Milton's essays to the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Chinese students chose nonviolence for practical reasons, as they said, in order to deal effectively with political and economic contradictions in Chinese society. Although they often moved from point to point without a carefully outlined plan for "victory," they achieved, consciously or unconsciously, more than anyone might have expected. Along the way, they gave new meaning and significance to old symbols, in language and image, and set a new standard for judging the government and upholding the common good.
Some of this was accomplished by liberating the press, that is, by drawing journalists, writers, and television personalities into the movement who had been cautiously, if understandably, silent before. "The media enjoyed a short, limited freedom of speech," as one teacher said, "which was unprecedented, encouraging." The footage and newspaper accounts are replete with pictures of staff members from China Daily, the principal English-speaking newspaper, and People's Daily, the party organ, marching under banners proclaiming their support. Journalists in Nanjing and other provincial capitals were similarly active and partisan. Television commentators openly supported the movement, in daily newscasts in late May.
After June 4, when television announcers had to read official bulletins that pointedly conflicted with previous reports, they indicated their displeasure through their expression or tone of voice. Not surprisingly, they soon disappeared from view, to be replaced by printed announcements, as the repression accelerated.
One reason for the response of professional journalists was the students' sophistication in communicating their message and in maintaining contact with their contemporaries throughout the country. Students at national universities--including the teachers colleges, in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, and elsewhere--form, after all, a kind of network; many come from similar backgrounds or graduate from the same college-preparatory high schools. Students with contemporaries at universities in Beijing were in constant communication by phone; by late May, on several university campuses, loud-speakers provided daily bulletins from Tiananmen Square, and broadcast news from the BBC and recordings of movement speakers, to which cheering crowds responded. Similar contacts were maintained with supporters in Hong Kong and beyond, by FAX machine. Some observers said that army troops sent into Beijing relied on these reports, which may have accounted for their reluctance to obey orders to shoot or to arrest their contemporaries occupying Tiananmen Square.
Even more surprising, for anyone familiar with Chinese society, was the students' success in winning support from workers, something that cannot be stressed enough in evaluating the campaign. Dismissing the uprising as "elitist," in fact, had led many to ignore the full political and cultural implications of this development, as I suggested earlier.
University students in China are an elite, to be sure, and the behavior of
some of student leader, since their coming to the U.S., betray their impulse
to ignore what a populist might regard as basic democratic values. A students'
elite status, however, is an advantage as well as a disadvantage, and many made
full use of the first and overcame the second. As creatures of advantage, they
seized the opportunity to convince others of their seriousness by their very
presence, their sacrifices during the hunger strike, and their standing up to
the army. "In traditional Chinese hierarchy, it is the body of the scholar-official
who, under the Emperor, ranks the highest in value. By extension, students occupy
a special place of value" (Gladney, 1992). In risking themselves, out of
a sense of patriotism, they eventually won workers, merchants, and others, to
the campaign. No wonder that unexpected allies took similar, often even greater
risks. In the end, workers were the principal victims in the massacre in Beijing
and later through execution and imprisonment.
The attitude and deportment of students in Najing and Harbin that I witnessed were anything but elitist. In Nanjing, for example, students remained persistent and disciplined in communicating their message to the broader populace, fanning out through the city to explain themselves and going daily into factories with leaflets about their campaign. As in Beijing, "they cast themselves not as dissidents but as loyal followers, appealing to the authorities to live up to the values they themselves had articulated" (Nathan, 1990). The appearance of banners by various workers' organizations and unions, a turning point in the events at Gu Lou Square, was cheered by faculty and students directly involved in the movement. Following Li Peng's speech on May 21, condemning the students, the posters and signs, with growing militancy, openly satirized and attacked him, and a leading party member and various workers spoke to a large public audience in support of the students.
In Harbin, similarly, where I attended an international conference of scholars and translators before, during, and after June 4, the student-led campaign was equally effective, with an extensive network of cooperation among local campuses and through on-going communication with others in Beijing. When three students from the Harbin technical university died at Tiananmen Square, students and local citizens poured out into the streets in mourning, many carrying memorial wreaths in the demonstrations. Later, students set up cordons throughout the city, when it appeared that the army might move in from the outskirts. Having to make our way through the cordons on our way to the train on June 6, I was again impressed by the skill and persistent dedication to nonviolence among student leaders.
During the l500-mile train-ride from Harbin south to Nanjing, university students on their way home continued their effort to acquaint everybody with reach with their movement, all along the way. Many who joined the train after the stop at Tianjin/Beijing moved through the passenger train with tape recording of speeches at Tiananmen Square and personal stories about their own involvement. Later, when our express train halted in Jinan for twelve hours, because of violence further down the line, my colleagues and I jumped to a local, a real "slow train through Arkansas," where more students talked animatedly with peasants and others selling produce on the train and at station stops along the route.
By the time we reached Nanjing, arriving on the north side of the Yangtze River, the provincial government, with encouragement from university officials, had already developed a number of strategies to avert violence. It apparently kept the People's Liberation Army at bay. Although rumors abounded that military divisions were in revolt or would take over the major cities, Nanjing remained relatively quiet--I saw only one small truck of soldiers along the main thoroughfare, for example. And the universities and colleges moved quickly to dismiss the students, to keep them from being rounded up, once the party moved to crush the uprising. Faculty and administrators sent buses out to retrieve students on "a long march" underway from Nanjing to Beijing, for example. Nonviolent resistance to the national government, nonetheless, did not ended with the massacre in Beijing or, about the same time, in Chengdu.
Another major achievement of the movement became apparent later in the summer, in fact, as the party attempted to pursue its repressive policy of rounding up demonstrators and punishing others who merely supported them. Hundreds of workers were executed and many students were imprisoned, of course. And since the uprising, first year students at major universities have had to endure a month to a year of military training. But passive resistance to or non-cooperation with the government's repressive measures during and after the uprising contrasted dramatically with public response to similar measures since l949, when neighbors informed on neighbors and families members were divided against one another.
A common response to inquiries in factories or organizations about activists during the days of "reflection" following June 4 was that "no one here was involved," as if the huge crowds had simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Asked to report "rebels" to the police, people phoned in reports on themselves or listed hundreds of others, from ordinary workers to cadres, thereby blocking phone calls from "real" informers. A good deal of black humor went around; some people, for example, made fun of the incident by saying how "nice" the government in not using jet-fighters against the students. Also, important leaders of the uprising, including Chai Ling, the skilled, rather romantic "Commander-in-Chief of Tiananmen Square," and her husband, managed to escape the country with support from party members or state employees.
But what about the consequences of the uprising over the past four years? What are the signs of success or failure? In the U.S., perhaps too much attention has been focused on the splintering, dissident groups and their leaders in exile. Not surprisingly, as with other young people (actors or rock stars) suddenly thrust into an international lime-light, student leaders often fail to live up to the high expectations that they themselves or others place upon them. And perhaps too much of the popular commentary has focused upon on self-defined leaders in Tiananmen Square, rather than on a community-at-work throughout the country. As in past history, attempts to conduct a campaign of resistance outside the country is fraught with difficulty, though some historians point to the positive example of Sun Yat-sen and the earlier democratic revolution.
From the perspective of nonviolence, the more important questions have to do with on-going plans and strategies and the ability of the movement to build on what the l989 uprising accomplished inside China. Information on resistance there remains rather scant, however, because of the political risks involved in giving testimony; it is also difficult to evaluate, given the dramatic changes taking place in China at this time--the rapid economic growth and recent power struggles within the party. The absence of any viable, "lawful" alternative to the dominant party makes political organization difficult and dramatic changes or reforms unlikely, at least until the death of Deng Xiaoping. After that, various economic factors may keep China on the road to reform, although basic "democratic" initiatives will probably have to arise from the grass roots.
Materially, life for many Chinese is better since l979, with increasing access to commodities and comforts that citizens of industrial nations take for granted. Meanwhile, changes associated with private enterprise--as opposed to state-directed programs--accelerate. The party espouses "Chinese learning as the essence, Western learning for utility" (zhong xue wei ti, xi xue wei yong), by which it means "no political or social change, to accompany the economic change." Whether party leaders believe it or not, they continue to assert that the political consequences of a free market in China will be different from those of a free market in other countries.8 No other "free market" nation, however, has escaped the cultural fall out of capitalism, has it? Is doing capitalism "the Chinese way" likely to produce radically different results? Following the pattern of the imperial West, for example, China continues to finance "peacetime" projects at home by increasing weapons sales abroad; and reports of greater corruption in government, as well as a return to gambling, prostitution, and drugs increase.
As for citizens of other industrial, imperial nations on this fragile planet, life in urban China is increasingly hectic, even threatening, for many who earlier lived in relative security. At the same time, interest in the philosophy and strategies of nonviolence has increased, also, as peace researchers explore the history of previous dissent and think about the future. And further "experiments with truth" may offer the principal hope for defending themselves against and building alternatives to "globalization from above."
l. In referring to the events of Spring l989 as a "democratic uprising,"
rather than the "pro-democracy movement" (or the Chinese designation
"6/4"), I am aware of the inadequacy of both designations. Some of
the leaders and participants obviously behaved more like Ming dynasty emperors
than Jeffersonian democrats. The primary impulse of the campaign was, nonetheless,
toward an extension of the franchise and against government corruption, nepotism,
and censorship; it built on earlier resistance to top-down management and advocated
participation and accountability.
2. Although the uprising obviously began at Tiananmen Square, it quickly spread throughout the country, as a direct result of student ingenuity in communicating their message, but even years later, popular histories of the uprising, including the informative film documentary, The Gate of Heavenly Peace by Richard Gordon and Carma Hinton (l996), give the impression that the movement was limited to Beijing; in actuality, it informed--one might say "shook"--the whole country. A selected bibliography would include the following useful books. Andrew J. Nathan (1986; 1990) provides political background. See also, (Hicks, l990). An on-going record of information has been provided by Ruth Cremerius, Doris Fischer, and Peter Schier, (l991). Henry Rosemont, Jr. (1990) gives an excellent brief account and evaluation of Tiananmen Square; see also, Four (1989) and these review/essays by journalists and scholars, in the New York Review of Books: Orville Schell (June 29, l989); Fang Lizhi, Simon Leys, Roderick MacFarquhar (July 20, l989); John K. Fairbanks (September 28, l989), Merle Goldman (November 9, l989); Jonathan Mirsky, "The Empire Strikes Back" (February l, l990). Relevant documents appear in Cries for Democracy: Writings and Speeches from the l989 Chinese Democracy Movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, l990.
3. General accounts of changing economic conditions appear in Orville Schell (l989), and Butterfield (l990), which adds a chapter on the uprising, to his 1982 edition.
4. Jonathan D. Spence (l990), as well as his invaluable cultural history (l982).
5. Liu Binyan's "Conclusion" (1989), gives many examples of on-going resistance to government policy. Nicholas D. Kristof (l992), tells the story of Han Dongfang.
6. See "Appendix 2: Chronology (April l5-July l5, l989," in Cheng (l990: 20l-08).
7. Professor Gladney argued also that The Yellow River Elegy, a popular film that is critical of the establishment and widely circulated the previous summer and fall, prepared the way for the l989 uprising. Although communist hard-liners had tried to suppress the film, Zhao Ziyang ordered it aired a second time, according to Harrison Salisbury; it ends with a statement that "The characteristics of democracy should be transparency, popular will, and scientism."
8. China Reconstructs, May l987 (p. 5), a government publication, put it this way: "The great majority of Chinese support this position--to carry on, but critically, our own historical tradition, while fully responding to the spirit of the times, and to accept good things from the rest of the world to enhance and enliven, but not replace, our own culture."
Ackerman, Peter and Christopher Kruegler.1994. Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century. Westport, CT: Praeger: 342-43.
Binyan, Liu, Ruan Ming, and Xu Gang. 1989. "Tell the World": What Happened in China and Why. tr. Henry L. Epstein. New York: Pantheon Books.
Butterfield, Fox.1990. China: Alive in the Bitter Sea. Rev. eds. New York: Random House.
Cheng, Chu-Yuan.1990. Behind the Tiananmen Massacre: Social, Political and Economic Ferment in China. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
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