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... leaders refused to meet them, that the students specifically called for the dismissal of Premier Li Peng, whose handling of the whole affair was inept. The Premier had other things on his mind. The students’ demonstration came at a crucial moment in his personal struggle with Zhao Ziyang (then the Party chief, having ...

Zhao’s Version

Andrew Nathan: Zhao Ziyang, 17 December 2009

Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang 
by Zhao Ziyang, translated by Bao Pu, Renee Chiang and Adi Ignatius.
Simon and Schuster, 306 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 84737 697 8
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... afternoon of 23 April 1989, China’s highest-ranking official, the Party’s general secretary Zhao Ziyang, left from Beijing railway station for an official visit to North Korea. Zhao had considered cancelling the trip because of the student demonstrations that had broken out in Beijing eight days earlier, but decided ...

‘Comrade Jiang Zemin does indeed seem a proper choice’

Jasper Becker: Tiananmen Square, 24 May 2001

The Tiananmen Papers 
by Zhang Liang, edited by Andrew Nathan and Perry Link.
Little, Brown, 513 pp., £20, January 2001, 0 316 85693 2
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... both inside and outside the country. However, this aim will not be achievable as long as Li Peng, the former Prime Minister and number two in the Party, remains in power. He was the most aggressive leader in his condemnation of the students and was, allegedly, instrumental in persuading Deng Xiaoping to adopt a military solution. Jiang Zemin is in ...

The Scissors Gap

Rebecca E. Karl: China takes it slow, 21 October 2021

How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate 
by Isabella Weber.
Routledge, 358 pp., £29.99, May, 978 1 03 200849 3
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... were abandoned (fang), reformed (gai), adjusted (tiao) and made to participate (can) in exchange. Zhao Ziyang, then on his way to becoming general secretary, popularised the policy’s four-character slogan. He also made clear that ‘the state intervenes in the market, and the market drives the enterprises.’ Rejecting the full price reforms recommended by ...

Tiananmen Revisited

Philippa Tristram, 19 November 1992

... for the leadership to claim that their aims and those of the students were not dissimilar. Li Peng (the Times reported on 8 May) declared as much to a meeting of bankers, affirming that several of the students’ aims – developing education, science and democracy while fighting corruption – were those of China’s leadership. His use of that vexed ...

The First Emperor

Jonathan Spence, 2 December 1993

Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty 
by Sima Qian, edited and translated by Burton Watson.
Columbia, 221 pp., $50, June 1993, 0 231 08166 9
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... of the Confucian and other humanist scholars by his own highly educated and talented minister Li Si, who at an earlier stage had issued a passionate plea in favour of allowing aliens and immigrants to come to Qin from other parts of China because of the variety of views and talents they would bring. The discussion between ...

Last Exit

Murray Sayle, 27 November 1997

The Last Governor: Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £22.50, July 1997, 0 316 64018 2
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In Pursuit of British Interests: Reflections on Foreign Policy under Margaret Thatcher and John Major 
by Percy Cradock.
Murray, 228 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 7195 5464 0
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Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule: The Economic and Political Implications of Reversion 
edited by Warren Cohen and Li Zhao.
Cambridge, 255 pp., £45, August 1997, 0 521 62158 5
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The Hong Kong Advantage 
by Michael Enright, Edith Scott and David Dodwell.
Oxford, 369 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 19 590322 6
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... cheeks. For the beaming new rulers of Hong Kong, China’s President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng, 1 July 1997 was set beside the sacred dates of 10 October 1911, when the first Chinese Republic was proclaimed, and 1 October 1949, when China’s new five-starred red flag was hoisted on Tiananmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing, and Chairman Mao ...

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying, 5 March 2020

... around. Its reputation has never fully recovered. After the scandal, a new chief was appointed, Zhao Baige, who promised to do everything it took to restore public trust. She failed colossally. When she left the post in 2014, she didn’t say a word to the media. People who knew her say she was broken by the online mobs: no matter what she did, it was never ...


Chaohua Wang: Remembering Tiananmen, 5 July 2007

... him. Government repression has been so complete that the number of victims remains a mystery. When Li Hai, a former activist from Peking University, tried to collect information about them in the early 1990s, he was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for ‘leaking state secrets’. Despite constant police harassment and repeated house arrests, Ding ...

A Singular Entity

Peter C. Perdue: Classical China, 20 May 2021

What Is China?: Territory, Ethnicity, Culture and History 
by Ge Zhaoguang, translated by Michael Gibbs Hill.
Harvard, 224 pp., £31.95, March 2019, 978 0 674 73714 3
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... in all the major dynasties). The conquest of China’s core territories – the states of Han, Zhao, Yan, Wei, Chu and Qi – by the First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, in the third century BCE was followed by more than four hundred years of consolidated rule by the two Han dynasties (202 BCE-220 CE). In the early Han dynasty, led by the towering scholar Dong ...

Taking the Bosses Hostage

Joshua Kurlantzick: China goes into reverse, 26 March 2009

Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China 
by Leslie Chang.
Picador, 432 pp., £12.99, February 2009, 978 0 330 50670 0
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Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State 
by Yasheng Huang.
Cambridge, 366 pp., £15.99, November 2008, 978 0 521 89810 2
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... even though signing it potentially meant arrest. ‘It’s not that there is no anger there,’ Li Datong, one of China’s best-known political analysts, told me when I met him in Beijing. ‘The government has been skilful in convincing the middle class it’s futile to protest . . . but you only need one spark for that to change.’ In 1979, China ...

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