Beijing Spring, 1989: Confrontation and Conflict: the Basic Documents

By Michel Oksenberg; Lawrence R. Sullivan et al. | Go to book overview

IV
Intellectual Dissent

This section turns to the explicit expression of dissent by Chinese intellectuals and their direct petitions to the party leadership. The opening salvo (Doc. 14) is by Su Shaozhi, former director of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Su delivered his address to a December 1988 symposium that evaluated the historic Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee, held in December 1978. This plenum marked the reascendancy of Deng Xiaoping (following his second purge in 1976); more important, it initiated the reform era. Despite his proreform views, Su's attendance at the December 1988 session (at which conservative party leaders tried to avoid open criticism of recent political and economic retrenchment) was controversial: several prominent dissident intellectuals had not been invited, while others decided not to attend, apparently out of displeasure. Su's invitation was surprising since he had been criticized for his excessively prodemocratic views along with others excluded from the symposium. His appearance and talk were courageous acts--especially his defense of Yu Guangyuan and Wang Ruoshui, leading moderate theoreticians who had drawn the ire of such conservative ideologues in the party as Deng Liqun and Hu Qiaomu. Su was now once again pitted against old political enemies, particularly Deng Liqun, who had failed to dislodge him in the 1983-85 "anti-spiritual pollution" campaign. Su was even more daring in condemning the campaigns against "humanism and alienation" ( 1978-1983), "bourgeois liberalization" ( 1987), and "spiritual pollution," because each had had the explicit imprimatur of Deng Xiaoping.

Even more radical views were expressed by Fang Lizhi, an internationally recognized astrophysicist who had been unceremoniously tossed out of the CPC by Deng Xiaoping in early 1987. Placed under police surveillance (genzong), Fang nonetheless was able to meet with friends and write tracts that reached the outside world, where they were published and then returned to China for dissemination, especially among

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