Evening Chats in Beijing By Perry Link

Chinese intellectuals have a traditional duty, for which there is no equivalent in the West: to worry, to "take responsibility for all under heaven", to argue the question "What can we do with China?" The Spring 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square climaxed a year of animated, despairing, idealistic worry - a year in which writers, journalists, scientists, professors and officials were able to gather in private to trade views on the corruption permeating Chinese society and the political repression exercised by the Communist Party. This pastime of "chatting" always turned to questions of responsibility: Should one resist - how? Follow an independent path? Flee the country? Perry Link was present at many evening chats involving China's most prominent intellectuals. In conveying their worries here, he allows the Chinese themselves to tell us why Beijing took to the streets in spring 1989 and why China's crisis remains unresolved.

Published in 1993.

 

Review in Foreign Affairs

Review in Publishers Weekly

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