Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This Day in 1989: Fang Lizhi Speaks Up in a Salon

In the evening of January 28, 1989, the magazine New Enlightenment hosted a salon in a small bookstore in Beijing. Many active intellectuals, including Wang Yuanhua, Wang Ruoshui, Li Hongling, Wu Guoguang, Su Shaozhi, Hu Jiwei, Bao Zunxin, Jin Guantao, Yu Haocheng, attended the meeting, along with many foreign reporters.

Several intellectuals gave brief speeches on the current affairs. But the highlight of the night was the sudden appearance of Fang Lizhi, who was not even invited. Nonetheless, he was received by a round of warm applause. Fang Lizhi briefed the audience on his recent letter to Deng Xiaoping calling for an amnesty for political prisoners, insisting that the issue of human rights must be raised. Moreover, he proclaimed, "In the past, I have always encouraged people to join the Party and reform it from within. But now I have fully realized that it is not enough. We must also take action from outside of the system. We must force the issue in any way we can."

The audience was stunned into silence. The host hastily pronounced that the meeting is over.

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