Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wuer Kaixi Puts Himself on Taiwan Ballot

Former 1989 Chinese student leader Wuer Kaixi today announced through his Facebook page that he will become a candidate in the regional representative election in Taiwan.

In his statement, he recalled the route he took in travelling to Taiwan after his exile from mainland China and eventually settling there. He says that he now feels that he is a "full Taiwanese" and it is time for him to contribute in the democracy of  that society.

He did not specify which party he will be affiliated to. The statement sounds like he will be an independent candidate.

Later on 12/26/2014, Wuer Kaixi announced that he has decided to withdraw from this round of regional elections, citing time constraints, but focus on a future candidacy in the 2016 national election instead.

Friday, November 28, 2014

People of 1989: Cao Siyuan (曹思源)

Cao Siyuan was born in 1946. In the early 1980s, he had already become a prominent intellectual within the government and very active in the reform effort. In 1985, he spearheaded the effort of drafting and passing the very first bankruptcy law in the country still dominated by state-owned, centrally planned economy.

By 1989, he had left his government position and become a consultant on entrepreneurial finance and bankruptcy issues. He was also part of think tank in the Stone Corp. At the latter stage of the movement, he was the driving force behind scenes to get the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress involved in resolving the conflict. He lobbied Hu Jiwei and eventually collected 46 signatures from the Standing Committee members in Beijing on a petition for an emergency meeting of the committee. Although it more than met the legal requirement, the meeting did not take place.

Because of his effort, Cao Siyuan was among the few intellectuals arrest in early June, even before the massacre. He stayed in jail for about a year.

After his release, he continued his consultation work in the merge and acquisition area as well as bankruptcy. He is also active in pushing for constitutional reforms.

Cao Siyuan died of cancer on November 28, 2014. He was 68.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tiananmen Memorial: June 4 Museum

The Memorial

A museum dedicated to the Tiananmen Massacre, the only one of its kind, in Hong Kong. The museum has its own official web site.

Exhibits in the museum

A replica of the Goddess of Democracy at the entrance.

Part of an interactive map of Beijing showing locations of death. 

Part of literature of the subject available in the museum
The museum is fairly small in size. Most of the exhibits are texts and pictures of the 1989 student movement. There is little actual artifacts from the event available, however.

Visitors pay a nominal fee to enter the museum. Picture-taking is allowed. Miniatural replicas of Goddess of Democracy, as displayed on the bookshelf above, are available for purchase as souvenirs.


Address: Fifth floor, 3 Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong SAR.

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The museum is housed in a residential-commercial building with no clear sign outside:


The museum was established by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China in 2012. Before moving into this permanent location in 2014, there were two separate temporary locations.

 Tiananmen Memorials

Tiananmen Memorial: Chinese University of Hong Kong

The Memorial

A statue at the Chinese University of Hong Kong:

The above pictures were taken on November 7, 2014, when Hong Kong was in the middle of the "Umbrella Revolution" protests. The statue was covered by protesting artifacts at the time. A clearer picture of this statue can be seen here.

Claimed as the "New Goddess of Democracy," the appearance of this statue has significant deviations in appearance from the original in 1989. The figure here holds up the torch with only one hand, while the other hand holding a tablet, much closer to the Statue of Liberty than Goddess of Democracy. 

A metal with inscription on the pedestal explains its origin and history.


Address: Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong SAR.

The statue is right outside of the MTR's University Station, at the entrance of the University.

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According to the wikipedia entry and the inscription above, The statue was created by the American artist Chen Weiming (陈维明) in 2010. After arriving in Hong Kong, it was first exhibited at Hong Kong's Times Square and was temporarily seized by the police.

Overcoming objections from the school, the Student Union at Chinese University of Hong Kong was able to provide a permanent home for the statue at its current location.

Tiananmen Memorials

Tiananmen Memorial: University of Hong Kong

The Memorial

A sculpture called Pillar of Shame (国殇之柱):

The four sides of the pedestal have different inscriptions:

In Chinese, this side have paragraphs explaining the origin and purpose of the sculpture, as well as a brief timeline of the 1989 student movement.

Inscriptions in English: The old cannot kill the young; THE TIANANMEN MASSACRE June 4th, 1989.

Various organizations that sponsored and/or contributed to the memorial.

In huge Chinese characters, it says "June 4th Massacre."

The above pictures were taken on November 6, 2014.


Address: Student Union Building, Lower University Street, University of Hong Kong, Porkpulum, Hong Kong SAR

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The sculpture is placed right in front of the student union building.


According to Wikepedia and the inscriptions, this sculpture is one of a series created by Danish artist Jens Galschiot. It was originally exhibited in Victoria Park in 1997 on the eighth anniversary of the massacre. Later, it traveled through various universities in Hong Kong until 1998 when the Hong Kong University Student Union adopted it in its current home.

The current orange color of the sculpture was painted in 2008 by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China in 2008 as part of the Color Orange initiative.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tiananmen Memorial: Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The Memorial

A replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue:

This is a fairly small and simple replica. The pedestal has the Chinese inscription "Goddess of Democracy" along with the year "1989" inscribed.

These pictures were taken on November 7, 2014, when Hong Kong is in the middle of the "Umbrella Revolution" protests. A couple of protest banners were attached on the statue.


Address: Shaw Amenities Building, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 11 Yuk Choi Road, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

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The statue is housed inside the Shaw Amenities Building at the center of the campus. It is casually placed by the stair way on the first floor.

The building also houses the student union. There is also a piece of artwork depicting the Goddess nearby:

Tiananmen Memorials

Tiananmen Memorial: City University of Hong Kong

The Memorial

A replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue:

It is a relatively simple and small replica. At the bottom pedestal, the words "1989 - 6 - 4 BEIJING" is franked by the Chinese characters for Beijing.

The above pictures were taken on November 7, 2014, when Hong Kong is in the middle of the "Umbrella Revolution" protests. Calls for class strike and protest banners and notes are placed on and around the statue at the time.


Address: Academic Building 1, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

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The statue is housed inside the huge Academic Building 1, on the third floor, of the university. It looks casually placed in a corner between the Run Run Shaw Library entrance and the main student bulletin board:

During the annual anniversaries of the Tiananmen Massacre, the statue would be temporarily placed in a more central and prominent location for tributes.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Zhou Fengsuo Participates in Hong Kong's Occupy Central Movement

For the first week of November, former 1989 Chinese student leader Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁) joined in the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, demanding a "real popular election" of the chief executive of the local government.

Zhou Fengsuo spent most of his time at the Admiralty occupation site, crashing in a tent for 7 days. As the first and so far only significant figure from the 1989 generation in this movement, he received considerable interest in the local media, resulting numerous interviews and reports. He also gave public speeches and held many discussions with the Hong Kong student leaders.

Sometimes emotional, Zhou Fengsuo expressed his appreciation of the Hong Kong movement for giving hope to China as well as allowing him to relive the days of Tiananmen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

People of 1989: Chen Ziming (陈子明)

Born in January, 1952, Chen Ziming grew up with the Cultural Revolution and the era of reform and openness after that. Right after middle school, he joined the wave of "send-down" students and spent 6 years in the rural area of Inner Mongolia. In 1974, he was fortunate enough to become a student in the Beijing College of Chemical Engineering. Yet, he was soon reported for having written politically incorrect material in his private letters. He was expelled from the school and sent to a reforming labor camp as a counter-revolutionary.

In April, 1976, Chen Ziming happened to be in Beijing and joined in the spontaneous mass movement later known as the April Fifth Movement. He became one of the few visible leaders and participated in the negotiations with authorities. In the ensuing crackdown, he escaped capture only because he was already back in the labor camp. Later, when the verdict of that movement was overturned, he was hailed as a national hero and promised a brighter future.

However, Chen Ziming soon participated in the Democratic Wall movement, advocating democracy and freedom. He founded the popular undergrand journal Beijing Spring. Later in 1980, he became one of the candidates in the first-ever election campaign in colleges and was elected a people's representative in his district.

In the 1980s, Chen Ziming took advantage of the freer environment and founded the Beijing Social and Economic Sciences Research Institute -- the very first private think tank in the Communist China. He grew the Institute to possess its own publishing, remote education, journals, and opinion-polling operations and research efforts. Through the Institute, he also gathered and supported many young intellectuals who had participated in the democratic movements and thus had difficulties with authorities.

Chen Ziming paid close attention as soon as the 1989 student movement broke out. He made donations for the budding Beijing Students Autonomous Federation and also helped students choose their slogans in the early demonstrations. But because of his background, he kept a low profile.

After the hunger strike, Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao set up a temporary meeting place at Jimen Hotel with the resources from their Institute to facilitate communication and coordination among the many factions of intellectuals. Wang Juntao and others from the Institute would then get involved with the efforts to go-between government officials and students and later organizing the Capital Joint Conference to lead the movement directly. But Chen Ziming continued to stay behind the scenes.

After the crackdown and an unsuccessful escape, Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao were designated by the government as the "black hands" behind the movement. They each received a 13 year sentence, the harshest of any leaders of the movement. While serving his time, Chen Ziming was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He refused the government offer of going abroad as an exile and chose to serve out his sentence in China instead.

After his release in 2002, Chen Ziming spent his time writing and participating in limited social activities, including co-signing the Charter 08. In more recent years, he was allowed to limited travel abroad as well as seeking medical treatment in Boston.

Chen Ziming died of cancer in Beijing on October 21, 2014.

People of 1989

Monday, September 29, 2014

In Hong Kong, Echoes of Tiananmen

For the last few days, people of Hong Kong have been engaged in a massive street protest for their democratic rights to elect their governor without the pre-approval of central government in Beijing. Inevitably, the echos of the 1989 student movement in Beijing can be seen in the numerous photos of this event. Such as these, including one that cleverly employed what looks like an order of French fry from McDonald's to mimic the famous Goddess of Democracy:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

People of 1989: Xiao Jianhua (肖建华)

In the very early days of the 1989 Chinese student movement, among the first things the students did was to "disband" their official student union by massive demand. In Peking University, this happened in the evening of April 19.

The official student union, if not officially dissolved, became defunct since then. Nobody had paid any attention to them until now, 25 years later, when New York Times published a profile of the head of that union in Peking University at the time: Xiao Jianhua.

The NYT piece describes Xiao Jianhua as:
There was no public mention then — and there have been very few mentions since — of the head of the official student union of Peking University at that time. His name is Xiao Jianhua. Mr. Xiao never opposed the government, and the events of June 1989 did not make him one of China’s “most wanted.” Instead, they catapulted him into the ranks of its most wealthy. 
After a tepid attempt to represent fellow students to university administrators that volatile spring, Mr. Xiao shifted course, agreeing with administrators that street protests had become out of hand. People who knew him at the time said he even worked with them to try to defuse the protests before Chinese troops descended on Beijing and crushed them with force. 
The rewards were immediate. Just after he graduated, Mr. Xiao stepped into the world of business with direct financial support from Peking University, one of China’s most prestigious institutes. In the quarter-century since, he became the prototype of the politically connected financier. He has assiduously courted the party elite, including the family of its current president, Xi Jinping, becoming something of a banker for the ruling class and a billionaire in his own right. 
Now 42 years old, Mr. Xiao controls a sprawling business empire with interests largely in state-dominated industries, including banking, insurance, coal, cement, property and even rare-earth minerals, and largely managed by his holding company, the Tomorrow Group.
It goes on to claim that Xiao Jianhua's personal fortune is now estimated at $2 billion and speculate and imply that much of it came through official connections and corruption.

Through a spokesperson of the Tomorrow Group, Xiao Jianhua issued an immediate response. While agreeing that he, as an 18 years old at the time, had grown disillusioned with student protests and politics and retreated to study in library rather than participating in the movement, he strongly denied any "rewards" of his actions, or the lack thereof. His riches, he claimed, are the result of legitimate and hard-working efforts, following the example of the famed American investor Warren Buffet.

People of 1989

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Former Student Leader Visited China Briefly

Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁), a former 1989 student leader, managed to sneak into China at the 25th anniversary. He paid a brief visit to the Tiananmen Square before being detained and deported.

In 1989, Zhou Fengsuo was heavily involved in the works with the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation as a representative from his Tsinghua University. That landed him on the fifth spot in the 21 Most Wanted list. After the massacre, he was arrested and jailed for a year, but was never formally charged or sentenced. The arrest and release should have technically cleared his "wanted" status.

According to his interview with the New York Times, Zhou Fengsuo now holds an American passport and has already had two previous, low-profile visits to China in recent years.

Among the 21 Most Wanted, so far only Li Lu was able to visit China without consequences, albeit under a specially arranged circumstance.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

People of 1989: Gao Yu (高瑜)

Gao Yu started her journalist career from the year 1980 at the official China News Service (中国新闻社). She mostly produced interviews with various famous personalities and provided her articles to oversea Chinese language media in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other countries. As a result, she was better known abroad than in her home country.

In 1988, Gao Yu joined the fledgling magazine Economics Weekly (经济学周报) which was taken over by the famous dissidents Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao. She immediately published a few popular interviews, including one with Yan Jiaqi and Wen Yuankai on political reform that December.

During the 1989 student movement, Gao Yu joined her fellow journalists in a few protest marches. After the martial law, on May 21, Gao Yu went to Tiananmen Square as a representative of Hu Jiwei to persuade hunger strike students to withdraw. She managed that with Wang Dan and drafted a statement of withdraw for him. But the effort was eventually in vain.

On June 3, just before the bloody crackdown, Gao Yu was kidnapped in front of her home and then was secretly imprisoned for 15 months. Thus, she became one of those who were arrested the earliest in that movement.

Gao Yu remained active after her release. In 1993, she was arrested for the second time for "leaking national secret" and received a 6-year prison term. While serving that sentence, she was bestowed several prestigious awards from various international media organizations.

On April 24, 2014, Gao Yu was once again arrested for "leaking national secrets." On April 17, 2015, she was sentenced to a 7-year term.

People of 1989

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Beijing Gathering Memorizing Tiananmen Massacre

According to the web site China in Perspective, more than a dozen citizens in Beijing gathered today to recall the 1989 student movement and memorize those who died in the massacre. Among them are mothers who had lost their children in the event and movement participants such as Liang Xiaoyan and Pu Zhiqiang.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tiananmen Massacre Museum Opens in Hong Kong

An 800-square-foot museum dedicated to the 1989 Tiananmen massacre has just opened in Hong Kong. It displays a small replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue and hundreds of documents, books, and photographs of that historical event. This is the first museum of its kind in the world.

The museum is the fruition of years hard work by the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, an organization that has been hosting the annual candle light vigil at the anniversaries.

South China Morning Post reports that the museum is also under a lawsuit threat by the building owner on a dispute in property use.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

People of 1989: Chen Yizi (陈一咨)

Born in 1940, Chen Yizi studied theoretical physics at Peking University before he changed his major to Chinese literature. But in any case, his study appeared to be in vain when he was forced to spend 10 years in the countryside to be "reformed through labor."

In 1980, he was finally called back to Beijing and founded a group to study agriculture development, upon which he spearheaded the very successful reform in countryside in early 1980s. Thus, he became one of the most significant figures of the socalled "in-system" (体制内) reformers, being very close to the highest power. Later, he also became one of the closest advisers to Zhao Ziyang.

Chen Yizi avoided direct involvement in the early days of 1989 student movement. However, by May 19, when hunger strike entered a critical phase, Zhao Ziyang's position in grave danger, and martial law was imminent, he organized four official organizations close to Zhao Ziyang and published a statement that disclosed the split within leadership and supported the student movement. Then Beijing mayor Chen Xitong cited this document as an intentional act of disclosing state secret.

The day after the massacre, Chen Yizi wrote a statement to withdraw from the Party and then escaped from China. He spent rest of his life in exile, during which he chaired a program at Princeton University for fellow exiled intellectuals and published his personal memoir in 2013.

Chen Yizi passed away on April 14, 2014, at the age of 74.

People of 1989

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi, with Student Protesters 25 Years Apart

As hundreds of students in Taiwan occupied the legislature there in a massive protest of policy, Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi showed up to lend their support:

25 years ago, the two of them had stood together in front of an even bigger student protest at Tiananmen:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

This Day in 1989: Fang Lizhi Unable to Attend Bush's Banquet

In the evening of February 26, 1989, Professor Fang Lizhi and his wife Li Shuxian, accompanied by their American friend Perry Link and his wife, were on their way to the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, where the visiting President George H. W. Bush was hosting a banquet. In a somewhat surprising and controversial move, Bush had invited this prominent dissident as a gesture of support.

Their car was soon stopped by the police, citing a traffic violation. They walked instead, but were refused entry to the hotel. The police even ordered taxi and bus drivers not to pick them up when they tried to go to the American Embassy instead.

They eventually ended up at the Shangri-La Hotel and told their stories to the foreign press there. Fang Lizhi protested that "this is a fresh example of the human rights violations in China."

The Bush administration had only muted response to the incident.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This Day in 1989: 33 Writers Sign Open Letter Supporting Fang Lizhi

On February 13, 1989, 33 prominent writers in Beijing co-signed an open letter to the National People's Congress and the Communist Party Central Committee, supporting Fang Lizhi's call for an amnesty of political prisoners.

The signatories are: (A few of them later claimed that their signatures were forged or obtained under false pretense.)

  • Bei Dao 北岛
  • Shao Yanxiang 邵燕翔
  • Niu Han 牛汉
  • Lao Mu 老木
  • Wu Zuguang 吴祖光
  • Li Tuo 李陀
  • Bing Xin 冰心
  • Zhang Jie 张洁
  • Zong Sui 宗璞
  • Wu Zuxiang 吴组缃
  • Tang Yijie 汤一介
  • Le Daiyun 乐黛云
  • Huang Ziping 黄子平
  • Zhang Dainian 张岱年
  • Chen Pingyuan 陈平原
  • Yan Wenjing 严文井
  • Liu Dong 刘东
  • Feng Yidai 冯亦代
  • Xiao Qian 萧乾
  • Su Xiaokang 苏晓康
  • Jin Guangtao 金观涛
  • Li Zehou 李泽厚
  • Pang Pu 庞朴
  • Zhu Wei 朱伟
  • Wang Yan 王焱
  • Bao Zunxin 包遵信
  • Tian Zhuangzhuang 田壮壮
  • Liu Qingfeng 刘青峰
  • Mang Ke 芒克
  • Gao Hao 高皋
  • Su Shaozhi 苏绍智
  • Wang Ruoshui 王若水
  • Chen Jun 陈军

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cui Jian Comments on the Memory of Tiananmen Massacre

Cui Jian, who once performed for the hunger striking students at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and more recently turned down an opportunity at the CCTV spring festival gala, was asked about the memory of the massacre while promoting his new file in New York City.

Answering the question from Rose Tang (唐路), who was one of the students at the square during the massacre, Cui Jian stated that, regarding to that part of history, "although we don't talk about it. But in fact the event has influenced us very, very deeply... even as terror, even as wounds, even as a technique, a trick, or a quibble, it's still embedded in you."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chinese Dissidents Commemorate June 4th in Henan, China

According to Voice of America, 30 dissidents in China gathered at Henan Province to openly commemorate Zhao Ziyang, Hu Yaobang, and those who died during the 1989 today. The rural location happens to be the birthplace of Zhao Ziyang.

They displayed a giant mural that included a picture of 1989 protest at Tiananmen as well as the sensitive words "June 4" (6 - 4), marking the day of the massacre.

This is the second time such open commemorative activities have been organized in China. There were plain-cloth policemen monitoring the scene but the government took no action to hinder or interfere the proceedings.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chen Ziming Arrives at US for Cancer Treatment

The prominent Chinese dissident Chen Ziming has now arrived at US. He will be receiving treatment in a Massachusetts hospital for pancreatic cancer which is reported as at the critical condition.

Along with Wang Juntao, Chen Ziming was sentenced to 13 years prison after the 1989 student movement as a "black hand" behind that movement. He served out his sentence and chose to remain in China to continue his writing and dissident activities. 

In 2008, he was allowed to travel abroad for a brief visit to Australia.

Cui Jian Chose Integrity over Spring Festival Gala Performance

The famous Chinese rock star Cui Jian, who once performed for the hunger strike students at Tiananmen Square in 1989, recently turned down an invitation to perform in this year's Spring Festival Gala. The gala, hosted by the official CCTV, is considered one of the most famous and privileged venues for stage artists.

The New York Times explained that the issue was censorship:
“In the end Mr. Cui Jian can’t participate in this performance,” his agent, You You, told The New York Times in an e-mail. Asked why, she replied, “Because we cannot change the song lyrics.” 
Ms. You declined to elaborate on the censorship process but held out the possibility that Mr. Cui could perform if no cuts to his songs were required. “We are still waiting for the results of the censorship,” she said.
In Chinese social websites, You You later confirmed that Cui Jian is now officially out of the show because the organizers insisted on him to perform a different song than his most famous "Nothing to My Name," or change its lyrics.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

This Day in 1989: January 6, Fang Lizhi Wrote a Letter to Deng Xiaoping

On January 6, 1989, physicist Fang Lizhi, then working at the Beijing Astronomical Observatory, wrote a letter to Deng Xiaoping, calling for an amnesty for political prisoners.

With this letter, Fang Lizhi broke his silence of a couple of years after being expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and stripped all his previous positions at University of Science and Technology of China for his accused involvement in an earlier student movement.

He was inspired by the study of the recently discovered supernova SN 1987A. Called "guest stars" in ancient China, supernova was traditionally regarded as a signal to the emperors to announce a general amnesty as a gesture to the mighty heaven. He took the task as his own and wrote the above letter (see full test in English here). Instead of supernova, however, he used the more modern "year of anniversaries" as his pretense for the amnesty call.

Fang Lizhi sent the original by dropping it in a mailbox. He then showed a copy of it to a sympathetic official who had inside channels to Deng Xiaoping's office and another copy to a few foreign reporters in Beijing, who made it public. It was then known as Fang Lizhi's Open Letter to Deng Xiaoping.

Days of 1989