Home > Tiananmen, 15 Years On > Profile

Tiananmen, 15 Years On

Where Are Some of the “Most Wanted” Participants Today?

Photo courtesy of Open Magazine
Feng Congde
“Tiananmen was the beginning of the end of the communist camp. It was a wake-up call to Chinese inside and outside China. There were two goals, a free market system and a democratic political system. The market system had to be speeded up or China would have exploded. And although people don’t speak out, they are building a bigger democratic base. Democracy and human rights have become not just a new concept, but a real and common value.”
—May 2004

Feng Congde became active in the pro-democracy movement on April 15, 1989, the day former premier Hu Yaobang died. Mourning students, who considered the ousted liberal Chinese Communist Party general secretary a hero, were quick to use his death to push their demands. At the time, Feng was a third-year graduate student at the Beijing University Remote Sensing Institute working on his thesis, “Expert System on Satellite Image Processing.” His scholarship to Boston University’s PhD program already in hand, Feng had expected to defend his thesis on June 12, the same day his name appeared on “Wanted List 1: The 21 Beijing Student Leaders.”

In Tiananmen Square where the students massed, Feng first assumed the post of president of the Student Union of Beijing Universities, and later became one of three deputy commanders of student headquarters.

Feng described the scene in Tiananmen Square the early morning of June 4, 1989, when it became clear that the government was about to crack down. Some 3,000 to 5,000 students were massed around the Monument to the People’s Heroes, “the center of the center,” he called it. “It was 4:30 in the morning, two to three hours before dawn. The lights had been turned off. It was a dangerous, nervous urgent time.” Feng explained that it was his duty to help the students to a unified decision––stay or leave the Square. Obviously the only possibility was a voice vote. Yes, we stay and maybe die, or we leave. At the same time as the students were deciding their own fate, four intellectuals were negotiating with the army. “They could advise us,” Feng said, “but they could not decide for us.” Feng said the student vote sounded about even to him, but based on what he heard and his own analysis of the vote, he made the decision to leave. To this day, he said, “I feel guilty about those workers and civilians who died for us, but I felt that if the students lived they could be seeds for the future.”

The students filed out of the Square in orderly fashion through a narrow pathway between two lines of soldiers. Before they had gone very far, several tanks rushed toward the middle of the student line and the first tear gas bombs went off. It was 6:20 a.m. At least two students were killed and several wounded. According to Feng, “There was no way to keep order.” Feng and several others rushed ahead to see what the danger might be. The street was eerily empty, he said, until he came to what he called “a scene of hatred,” four soldiers lying dead in the street. When he tried to help, some thirty civilians rushed in seemingly from no place, threatening to beat him if he dared to remove the bodies or help in any way. As he understood it, “These soldiers had orders to kill, but they were victims, too.”

Feng explained that if it hadn’t been for a group of 100 qi gong practitioners, including policemen, high government officials, and ordinary workers, whom they happened to meet as they fled, he and his then wife Chai Ling would never have been able to survive ten months in hiding followed by escape. As a result of that experience Feng re-thought his interests. He has just completed his dissertation in the religious science department at the Sorbonne. It is entitled “Chinese Medical Cosmology According to the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon.” He earns his living through computer-related work.

More Profiles:

Wang DanWang Dan
“ The future for democracy in China is dependent not just on political institutions but on the growth of a vibrant civil society.”

—May 25, 2004
Fenge CongdeFeng Congde
“Tiananmen was the beginning of the end of the communist camp. It was a wake-up call to Chinese inside and outside China.”

—May 2004
Photo withheldZhang Boli
“1989 stands out as a beautiful moment. We stood up. It wasn’t easy. Overturning the government’s official verdict isn’t important; what’s important is what we did. History will judge us properly.”
—June 2, 2004
Photo withheld/not availableLiu Gang
“We didn’t fail—failure is the mother of success. There’ll be more chances—and we have more experience.”

—May 2004
Zheng YiZheng Yi
Zheng worked with other intellectuals to craft statements of support for the students including the famous “Declaration of May 16.”
Photo withheld/not availableWang Chaohua
“I jumped into the center of the movement. I thought I could make a decision for myself....But this...decision had repercussions for others, including ones I love dearly.”
—May 26, 2004
Photo withheld/not availableLi Lu
“Once in [Tiananmen] Square you did anything and everything that needed doing.”
Photo withheld/not availableZheng Xuguang
“Within the movement we consistently adhered to the principles of peace, reason and nonviolence.”
—1993 “Peace Charter”
Zhang MingZhang Ming
Accused of inciting subversion and attempting to overthrow the socialist system, Zhang was sentenced in January 1991 to a three-year term.
Xiong YanXiong Yan
“We believe, no matter whether the government does or does not, that history will recognize this movement as a patriotic and democratic movement….”

—May 1989
Zhang MingWang Juntao
“Tiananmen changed Chinese history. It was a benchmark in Chinese political development, furthering the liberal trend of the 1980s and destroying the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party.”
—May 2004
Ma ShaofangMa Shaofang
Ma Shaofang, the former Beijing Film Academy student who was No. 10 on the most wanted student list, has remained politically active in China.
Yang YoucaiWang Youcai
“The development of a democratic system is crucially important. Democracy is the only way to avoid a second Tiananmen.”
—May 2004
Yang TaoYang Tao
Authorities charged Yang Tao had been an instigator of a “counterrevolutionary rebellion,” had “advocated bourgeois liberalism,” and “wantonly attacked Marxism.”
Han DongfangHan Dongfang
“1989 was the very first time the Chinese people themselves directly faced the regime. Before that time, there was only hope.
—May 2004
Zho FengsuoZhou Fengsuo
“It was the one time I experienced the beautiful character of the Chinese people longing for a democratic China where we could freely speak our minds.”
—May 2004
Photo withheld/not availableZhang Zhiqing
Zhang Zhiqing, No. 16 on “Wanted List 1,” disappeared from view shortly after June 4, 1989. None of the other students on the most wanted list has heard from him since.
Yan JiaqiYan Jiaqi
By the time the 1989 protests came to a head, Yan Jiaqi had years of experience in reform politics, working both inside and outside the system.
Lu JinghuaLu Jinghua
“Tiananmen 100 percent changed my life. Even since ’89, I’ve tried to make people understand what life without human rights is really all about.”
—May 24, 2004
Photo withheldFang Lizhi
“June 4, 1989 was one of the most important events of the last century.”
—May 2004


Nipped in the Bud: The Suppression of the China Democracy Party

Slamming the Door on Dissent: Wang Dan’s Trial and the New “State Security” Era

Leaking State Secrets: The Case of Gao Yu

China: Enforced Exile of Dissidents" Government "Re-entry Blacklist" Revealed

Further Reading

Chinese Scholars Detained
Human Rights Watch Campaign Document

Tiananmen Mother’s Campaign
Off-Site Link

Dr. Jiang Yanyong’s Letter and Petition
Off-Site Link