June 4: History and Memory in Exile

  • Rowena Xiaoqing He
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)


The 1989 Tiananmen Movement, known in Chinese simply as “Liu Si” (June Fourth), was the most serious open conflict between the Communist regime and the Chinese people since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. On the surface Tiananmen seems to be remote and irrelevant to the reality of the “rising China,” but every year on its anniversary, the government clamps down with intense security and meticulous surveillance. Tiananmen Mothers are still prohibited from openly mourning their family members, exiles are still turned away when they try to return home to visit a sick parent or to attend a loved one’s funeral, and scholars working on the topic are regularly denied visas. The Beijing regime has been remarkably, if temporarily, successful in enforcing its official account of 1989 within China, justifying the military crackdown as necessary for stability and prosperity and for countering a Western conspiracy to divide and weaken China. June Fourth encapsulates the relationship between history and memory, power and politics, and intellectual freedom and human rights in the Chinese context. Indeed, it is not possible to understand today’s China and its relationship with the world without understanding the spring of 1989.


Chinese Student Chinese Communist Party Oral History Student Leader House Arrest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Rowena Xiaoqing He 2014

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