Chinese Democracy and the Crisis of 1989

Chinese and American Reflections

Edited by Roger V. DesForges, Luo Ning, and Yen-bo Wu

Subjects: Asian Studies
Paperback : 9780791412701, 380 pages, December 1992
Hardcover : 9780791412695, 380 pages, January 1993

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Table of contents


I. Historical Perspectives

1. The Formation and Characteristics of China's Existing System
Su Shaozhi

2. Democracy in Chinese History
Roger V. Des Forges

3. Civil Society and Public Sphere in Modern Chinese History
David Strand

4. Political and Ideological Origins of the Crisis
Xu Luo and Luo Ning

5. The Social Origins and Limits of the Democratic Movement
Mark Selden

II. The Rise and Demise of the Movement

6. The Dilemmas of Participation in the Political Reform of China, 1986–1988
Wu Guoguang

7. A Review of China's Economic Problems: The Industrial Sector
Wang Xiaodong

8. Student Organization in the Movement
Josephine M. T. Khu

9. From a Pillar of Continuity to a Force for Change: Chinese Workers in the Movement
Shaoguang Wang

10. Why the People's Army Fired on the People
Andrew Scobell

11. Democratic Transition in China: A Comparative Examination of a Deified Idea
Xiaoxing Han

III. Culture, Values, and the Media

12. The Rhetoric of River Elegy : From Cultural Criticism to Social Act
Edward Gunn

13. The Performance of the Chinese Media During the Beijing Spring
Michael J. Berlin

14. The People's Daily and the Epiphany of Press Reform
Frank Tan

15. "Professionalism" in China's Press Corps
Judy Polumbaum

16. Some Reasons Why the Party Propaganda Failed This Time
Xinshu Zhao and Peilu Shen





This study examines the process of democratization in China, taking as a focal point the recent crisis of 1989 in Tiananmen Square, but providing broader historical perspectives from both Chinese and American scholars. The authors evaluate China's political heritage, from theories of despotism in Chinese civilization to evidence for China's own democratic traditions. They also analyze the more recent political and social crises of the 1980s leading to the massive urban demonstrations in the spring of 1989, with the conflicts that have divided the rural masses, the state, the army, the cultural elite, and the media in China; and they discuss what these events tell us about China's cultural and political future.

Roger V. Des Forges is Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York, Buffalo. He is the author of Hsi-liang and the Chinese National Revolution. Luo Ning is a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Researcher at the Roswell Park Cancer Research Institute in Buffalo. Wu Yen-bo, Ph. D. , is International Student Advisor/Program Coordinator at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


"This book includes a wide array of excellent articles by Chinese as well as American scholars, reformers as well as independent scholars, representing fields as diverse as economics, history, sociology, political science, literary criticism, and journalism. The Chinese scholars' analyses of trends and events with which they have an intimate familiarity are especially valuable, and the selection raises fascinating questions about the reading of form and content in Chinese propaganda and counter-propaganda. This is a uniquely valuable collection of perspectives on Chinese intellectuals and reformers as activists. " — Jerry Dennerline, Amherst College