Sunday, March 22, 2009

Standoff at Tiananmen: Table of Contents

The table of contents of my new book, Standoff at Tiananmen, with a brief summary for each chapter:

1. The New Generation

In the early 1980s, a new generation of students entered colleges in China without having to suffer the misfortunes of their upperclassmen. But it was those who experienced the turmoil of Cultural Revolution who showed the young kids a different facet of campus life. Hu Ping, Wang Juntao, and Chen Zimin were heavily involved in the grass-root movement of "Democracy Wall" and the campus election campaign of 1980.

2. The "Bourgeois Liberalization"

Throughout the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping's reform brought both economical success and social discontent. The new generation of students started to find their own voice, influenced by liberal-minded intellectuals such as Professor Fang Lizhi. In the fall of 1986, a wave of demonstrations culminated in Shanghai and the street protest brought the city into a standstill.

3. The Democracy Salon

In Beijing, students assembled at Tiananmen Square on New Year's Day, 1987. Dozens of students were detained but then released under students' pressure. Party Secretary Hu Yaobang was sacked for refusing to suppress student movements. After Fang Lizhi was expelled from the Communist Party, Liu Gang engineered a campaign in Peking University to elect his wife Li Shuxian as a local representative. In the spring of 1988, Liu Gang organized the "Democracy Salon" and hooked up with younger students such as Wang Dan and Shen Tong.

4. The Funeral

The unexpected death of Hu Yaobang ignited a new wave of student activism. Thousands of students launched a daring overnight occupation of Tiananmen Square to be a part of Hu Yaobang's funeral. When three students staged a dramatic kneeling-down plea for their petitions on the stairs of the Great Hall of People, emotional students found themselves to be on the other side of their own government.

5. The Autonomous Federation

With students organizing their own independent unions, Liu Gang called a clandestine meeting to launch the city-wide Beijing Students Autonomous Federation. Wang Dan did not attend. Wuer Kaixi narrowly lost his bid to become its first president. But the two would eventually become the public faces of this new organization.

6. The Demonstration

Students' hope that their actions would be recognized as patriotic and well-meaning was smashed by the publication of a People's Daily editorial. Under tremendous pressure, the president of the new Beijing Students Autonomous Federation canceled a scheduled march at the eleventh hour. But amid the confusion, the largest student demonstration erupted anyway. On April 27, an estimated half million students marched through Beijing by pushing through many police barriers.

7. The Hunger Strike

As various dialogues between government officials and the masses underway, students were ignored. Impatient, Wang Dan, Wuer Kaixi, and Chai Ling launched a hunger strike. With her emotional speeches, Chai Ling is emerging as a new leader for the movement.

8. The Dialogue

Yan Mingfu, a seasoned bureaucrat on the government side reached out to students to find a way out of the confrontation. A formal dialogue between Yan Mingfu and the students' Dialogue Delegation opened amid strenuous circumstances. The session came to an abrupt halt when hunger striking students found a promised broadcasting of the session did not materialize.

9. The Confrontation

In a last-ditch effort to defuse the crisis, Premier Li Peng held an unprecedented public meeting with some student leaders. An emotional Wuer Kaixi dominated the scene, turning the critical meeting into a public scoff. General Secretary Zhao Ziyang made a tearing personal appearance in Tiananmen before disappearing from public scene.

10. Martial Law

Disaster was looming. Students finally called off the hunger strike barely hours before martial law. In a shocking turn of events, martial law troops were blocked at the outskirts of the city by residents. The student movement entered a new phase, calling for the end of the Li Peng regime.

11. The Standoff

Tiananmen Square became both a free public forum and a psychological ward for the emotional students who continued to occupy it. But the standoff was taking a heavy toll on the leaders. Wang Juntao attempted to reorganize the fragmented leadership, but his efforts collapsed when a withdrawal plan was aborted at the insistence of Li Lu and Chai Ling.

12. The Massacre

On the night of June 3, 1989, thousands of soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles and accompanied by tanks and armored personnel carriers shot through the ancient capital from three directions. In the midst of heavy casualties and mayhem, intellectuals and student leaders engineered a peaceful exit of the hundreds of students remaining at the Monument of People's Heroes.

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