Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This Day in 1989: February 25, President Bush Visits China

On February 25, 1989, American President George H. W. Bush, who had been in office for barely a month, arrived in Beijing for a working visit of China.

President Bush at Tiananmen Square, February, 1989

In the late 1970s, Bush had served as the official envoy to China, establishing the liaison office that eventually became the official embassy. He and his wife enjoyed riding bicycles on Beijing streets and acquired substantial knowledge of Chinese society. He also boosted personal relationship with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

After becoming the President, Bush took the opportunity of the funeral of Japanese Emperor Hirohito to launch his first major diplomatic trip by visiting Japan, China, and Korea, before visiting any traditional western allies. (To soften possible controversy, he paid a same-day symbolic visit to neighboring Canada before the Asian trip.)

More than twenty years later, President Obama attempted his own version of "pivot to Asia."

Days of 1989

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This Day in 1989: February 20, 42 Scientists and Educators Issues an Open Letter

On February 20, 1989, 42 well-known scientists and educators co-signed an open letter to the nation's top leadership calling for democracy. This is the third such letter following those of Fang Lizhi and 33 writers.

This letter is relatively lengthy and detailed. As with the other letters, it called for the release of political prisoners but stopped short of calling for an amnesty. It also did not mention Wei Jingsheng's name.

The full text and list of signatures can be read here.

Days of 1989

Sunday, February 1, 2015

This Day in 1989: Feburary 2, Fang Lizhi Publishes China's Despair and China's Hope

On February 2, 1989, Fang Lizhi published an essay titled China's Despair and China's Hope, translated from Chinese by Perry Link, on the New York Book Review. In it, he boldly claimed that "the disappointments of the past forty years [of China] must be attributed to the social system itself."

The original Chinese version was published in Hong Kong press. It was also later propagated in Peking University by Wang Dan and Shen Tong through posters.

Days of 1989