Twenty Years: Preparing for the 6/4 Anniversary

Some China Beat contributors have mentioned to us that they’ve been receiving requests from journalists and teachers for resources to turn to in writing and teaching about the up-coming twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen protests. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting lists of resources—some online, others in print.

This first list of readings is based entirely on a single website, “Tiananmen: The Gate of Heavenly Peace,” which presents varied perspectives on China's 1989, with info about an important Long Bow Group film (The Gate of Heavenly Peace, 1995) and diverse online readings, available full-text. China Beat views the film, for which the website in question was created, as a major interpretation of the events of 1989--but we aren't impartial where this is concerned, as frequent China Beat contributor Geremie Barmé was the main academic consultant for and chief writer of the film (that was directed by Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon and had a roster of scholarly advisers that included this blog's co-founder Jeff Wasserstrom), and Barmé was also the main creative force behind the very innovative (especially for its time--in went up in the 1990s) website.

The site has so much material that it can be overwhelming. Here are a few places to get started:

1) A detailed chronology of events.

2) Background on the film and the controversy it generated.

3) Eye-witness accounts by academic China specialists, mostly based outside of the capital that year (though there's also a piece on Beijing by Geremie Barmé).

4) Western coverage of the events.

5) Chinese official accounts of the events and other miscellaneous readings, such as a piece by Tiananmen activist and a Charter 08 drafter Liu Xiaobo.

Unfortunately, if your local library does not have a copy of Gate of Heavenly Peace on hand, it is a little tough to get hold of. Distribution information is available here, but Netflix does not even have the documentary in its catalogue and Frontline has not added the film to its online archive.


Eddie Cheng said...

I would like to bring to your attention that my blog Standoff at Tiananmen as a resource for the anniversary. In addition to the material already exist, I plan to add daily recounting of the events from various angles (such as people, events, etc.) in the coming weeks.

I also hope you will find my book by the same title, a narrative history of the movement, interesting.


Rebecca M. said...

Somebody has put the Chinese version of the entire film (with Karma Hinton's narration in Mandarin) on Youtube. At least some of the episodes have English subtitles. Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

For some odd reason, I am unable to access this website in China...

Mark Anthony Jones said...

In my opinion, the two most valuable sources of information are:

"Tiananmen Square, 1989: The Declassified History", published in 1999 by the National Security Archive. This is an online collection of declassified State Department documents pertaining to the events surrounding the June 1989, and is a very valuable source.

Another particularly useful source is "The Tiananmen Papers", New York: PublicAffairs, 2001. This is a collection of documents depicting the deliberations of China’s paramount leadership during this tense period.

stuart said...

This is a good idea. I noted on my site that the Times ran a 'from the archives' piece the other day. It is onlt right that this anniversary is remembered responsibly and openly by bloggers, because it's not going to happen where it should - in China itself.

David said...

I am currently reading "Perils in Protest" a comparative study of the Tian'anmen protest with the Wild Lily protest in Taiwan.