CHINA RISING: The Meaning of Tiananmen by Lee Feigon

CHINA RISING: The Meaning of Tiananmen

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A detailed account of modern Chinese student rebellions in the 20th century leading up to and including Tiananmen. Feigon (History/Colby College) presents a picture of a privileged class of scholars, venerated for thousands of years until only recently, when their elitism has come under attack. Terrorized and repressed during the Cultural Revolution, scholars subsequently enjoyed relative rehabiliation, and students were permitted to study abroad. They returned with experience of the pleasures of capitalism, with its comforts, personal liberties, and material goods, and simmered over repressions and deprivations at home. Although ""democracy"" was the banner of Tiananmen, this was, Feigon explains, less a clear-cut vision of a social ideal than a desire for better student housing, relevant studies, less government control over careers, and more individual freedoms. Disaffected by the remoteness of their rulers and the corruption of the bureaucracy, the students nevertheless naively believed their demands would be heard. The author also explores the roles of rock musicians and opportunists--not the most powerful of political allies. Deng himself is seen here as vacillating, Machiavellian, manipulative; and the rest of the ruling clique as incompetent, out of touch, and determined to retain power. The picture of China that emerges from this clear critique of student movements and government policies is one of ominous disarray.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1990
Publisher: Ivan Dee