|Title||The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement. By DINGXIN ZHAO. [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. 433 pp. ISBN 0-226-98260-2.]|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2004|
|Journal||The China Quarterly|
The ghost of Tiananmen stubbornly refuses to leave the mansion of Chinese politics. Since Deng Xiaoping mobilized the PLA against the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Chinese government has refused to review the event or its suppression. A brief flurry of publications and public gestures affirmed the correctness of the decision in the months after 4 June until all official acknowledgments of the incident were withdrawn from circulation in November 1989: Tiananmen was best forgotten. The 15th-year anniversary in June 2004 might have been an appropriate moment to lay the ghost to rest. Jiang Yanyong, the PLA doctor who publicized China’s failure to deal with SARS in 2003, attempted to puncture the silence by calling for an official re-evaluation, but he achieved little beyond being made to disappear for seven weeks. The power of silence is strong, but so too is the power of memory. Tiananmen will remain an unexploded mine on the battlefield of Chinese politics until it is properly defused.