A Beijing citizen stands passively in front of a convoy of tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Tiananmen Square.


For the first time ever, reports and minutes have surfaced that provide a revealing and potentially explosive view of decision-making at the highest levels of the government and party in the People's Republic of China (PRC). The materials paint a vivid picture of the battles between hard-liners and reformers on how to handle the student protests that swept China in the spring of 1989. The protests were ultimately ended by force, including the bloody clearing of Beijing streets by troops using live ammunition. The tragic event was one of the most important in the history of communist China, and its consequences are still being felt.

The materials were spirited out of China by a sympathizer of Communist Party members who are seeking a resumption of political reform. They believe that challenging the official picture of Tiananmen as a legitimate suppression of a violent antigovernment riot will help unfreeze the political process.

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  • Andrew J. Nathan is Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and the author of numerous books, including China's Transition. He is co-editor with Perry Link, Professor of Chinese language and literature at Princeton University, of The Tiananmen Papers, to be published around the world this month by PublicAffairs and in a Chinese version later this year. Documents in the book were compiled by Zhang Liang (a pseudonym).
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