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Tiananmen, 15 Years On

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

Han Dongfang
“1989 was the very first time the Chinese people themselves directly faced the regime. Before that time, there was only hope. June 4 put a big question mark on the legitimacy of the Party. The people lost trust and they lost hope. My dream broke that day. It was the turning point of my whole life.”
—May 2004

Han Dongfang, a twenty-six year-old railway worker, first became involved in the pro-democracy movement on April 15, 1989, the day Hu Yaobang died. But it was not until May 20, when he joined the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation (BWAF) one day after it was formed, that he found his niche. The BWAF, the first independent union since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, grew to some 200 members before it was banned on June 4. Han’s emergence as its leader earned him the top spot on the list of wanted worker leaders.

After the massacre in Beijing on June 4, Han took off on his bicycle on what he expected to be a one- or two-year cross country trip designed to help him learn more about working conditions in China. It was not to be. On June 19, Han found out much to his surprise that he was wanted and turned himself in to the police. Han was never tried or sentenced, but at the end of April 1991, after he contracted drug-resistant tuberculosis, he was permitted to return home. Seventeen months later, when it was clear his health was not improving, he was permitted to travel to the U.S. for treatment. He made it clear to Chinese authorities that he would stay away no more than one year.

True to his promise, Han returned to China in August 1993, only to immediately be forcibly ejected for “opposing and attacking China, betraying it and his Chinese citizenship, undermining the interests of the country and harming its international prestige.” Han was able to settle in Hong Kong where in 1994 he formed the influential China Labor Bulletin to promote independent trade unionism in China. His call in talk-show on Radio Free Asia is one of the network’s most popular programs.

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 develop-
ment 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


Wanted List 1: The 21 Beijing Student Leaders

Wanted List 2: Three Workers Leaders

Ministry of Public Security Compilation No. 2