Modern China's Original Sin
Tiananmen Square's Legacy of Repression
The Tiananmen Papers
China: Erratic State, Frustrated Society
Long Time Coming
The Prospects for Democracy in China
The Life of the Party
The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China
Democratize or Die
Why China's Communists Face Reform or Revolution
How China Is Ruled
Why It's Getting Harder for Beijing to Govern
Chinese Dissidence From Tiananmen to Today
How the People's Grievances Have Grown
The Geography of Chinese Power
How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?
The Game Changer
Coping With China's Foreign Policy Revolution
How China Sees America
The Sum of Beijing’s Fears
Beijing's Brand Ambassador
A Conversation With Cui Tiankai
The Inevitable Superpower
Why China’s Dominance Is a Sure Thing
The Middling Kingdom
The Hype and the Reality of China’s Rise
The Risky Strategy Behind China's Construction Economy
Austerity with Chinese Characteristics
Why China's Belt-Tightening Has More To Do With Confucius Than Keynes
Where Have All the Workers Gone?
China's Labor Shortage and the End of the Panda Boom
After the Plenum
Why China Must Reshape the State
The Great Leap Backward?
Amnesty International protests in front of the Chinese Embassy in Brussels, 2009. (Thierry Roge / Courtesy Reuters)
On June 5, 1989, the day after the bloody crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, Fang Lizhi, a prominent astrophysicist, and his wife, Li Shuxian, sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Fang, an intellectual and a strong proponent of democracy and human rights, and his wife were at the top of the Chinese government's wanted list. Fang was accused of being one of the "black hands" behind the student demonstrations. For more than a year, he and Li lived in the basement of the U.S. embassy while, outside, the Chinese authorities tracked down, detained, and imprisoned others suspected of so-called "counterrevolutionary crimes." In June 1990, they were allowed to leave China for the United States, where they lived in exile for the next 22 years.
The negotiation over Fang's future was complicated by international response to the Tiananmen crackdown. In the United States, Congress was engaged in debates over annual renewal of China's most-favored-nation (MFN) status. On June 5, 1989, it also imposed an arms embargo on China, and seven governments, including the United States, levied economic sanctions on China. Ultimately, one of Deng Xiaoping's conditions for releasing Fang was the lifting of those sanctions. Much as they are today, human rights issues were clearly tied up with trade and domestic U.S. politics.
On April 6 of this year, Fang died in Tucson, Arizona. A few weeks later, the blind activist and dissident Chen Guangcheng surfaced at the U.S. embassy in China, creating yet another diplomatic crisis for officials in both Beijing and Washington (coming less than two months after regional police chief Wang Lijun sought refuge in the U.S. consulate in Chengdu). On April 22, Chen had made a dramatic escape from 19 months of house arrest in his home village in Linyi, Shandong province. Helped by supporters, he traveled more than 250 miles to Beijing to find refuge with the Americans.
For the better part of two
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