Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: First Mention of "Democracy Salon"?

In the middle of Orville Shell's story about Fang Lizhi on April 16, 1989's New York Times article, there is a little passage:

In May 1988, while Party officials were busy celebrating the 90th anniversary of Beijing University in a nearby stadium, Fang suddenly appeared elsewhere on campus, and before a crowd of several hundred enthusiastic students spoke of the ''urgency'' of stressing ''freedom of the press, of ideas and speech.''
This "crowd of several hundred enthusiastic students" is none other but the first meeting of the "Democracy Salon" organized by Liu Gang. The salon will later become very famous for having gathered many of the student leaders in the 1989 movement. Liu Gang had personally invited and arranged the "sudden" appearance of Fang Lizhi, as well as his wife Li Shuxian, at this meeting.

The Salon has also been erroneously attributed as founded by Wang Dan, a younger leader. But in fact Wang Dan inherited it after Liu Gang was forced out of Beida campus after his graduation.

But the Salon itself was not well known outside of the crowd itself. So, the paragraph above might just be its first, albeit indirect, mention in press.

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