Fairbanks Center for Chinese Studies: Don’t Call It a Yundong: Uncovering the Post-Tiananmen Purge, 1989-1992


Monday, September 21, 2015, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


Room K262 | CGIS Knafel | 1730 Cambridge Street | Cambridge, MA 02138

For more info see the Fairbanks Center website.

Jeremy Brown, Simon Fraser University

One week before gunshots rang through Beijing on June 4, 1989, a purge had already begun, as officials associated with General Secretary Zhao Ziyang were taken away in unmarked cars to clandestine detention centers.  Officially the purge wrapped up a year after the massacre, but it has never really ended.  The Communist Party’s effort to punish and purge participants in the protests of 1989 was a protracted and complex process.  Drawing on archival materials from a Beijing workplace, interviews, recently unearthed policy documents, and memoirs, I explore how the Party dealt with—or ignored—protesters and supporters of the student movement.  During the year following the massacre, all Beijing work units were compelled to investigate people who had been involved in the spring’s demonstrations, and all urban Party members were required to reregister and affirm their loyalty to the Party.  The purge movement (known as qingcha qingli gongzuo in Chinese) and Party reregistration unfolded in diverse ways in different places.  In some organizations, leaders protected their subordinates.  Elsewhere, punishments were harsh and long lasting.  This understudied purge can be seen as a bridge between the political campaigns of the Mao Zedong era and today’s “stability maintenance” regime.