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Tiananmen, 15 Years On
Where Are Some of the “Most Wanted” Participants Today?
“For our generation, it was the biggest event. I feel lucky to have been
a part. 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. We believed we could get there. Later I experienced the worst
of human nature. People died.”
Zhou Fengsuo, a physics major at Qinghua University and a member of the Standing
Committee of the Beijing Students Autonomous Union, was never tried or sentenced.
Instead he was released with ninety-six others after a year in prison, an event
he attributes to China’s desire to continue to enjoy Most Favored Nation trading
status with the U.S., then up for renewal. However, instead of being allowed
to return home, the government sent Zhou to Yangyuan, a poor and isolated rural
county in Hebei province, to be reeducated.
From his release in 1991 until 1994, amid constant monitoring and police harassment,
sometimes with friends whose experiences had been similar to his own, he struggled
to earn a living, as an engineer, in futures trading, and in his own company.
For want of a passport, he could not accept a scholarship to study physics at
a U.S. university. When he finally was allowed to leave China, he became active
with the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars, and attended
business school at the University of Chicago from 1996 to 1998. Today, Zhou is
a California-based financial analyst.
“ 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
“Tiananmen was the beginning of the end of the communist camp. It was a wake-up
call to Chinese inside and outside China.”
“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
“We didn’t failfailure is the mother of success. There’ll be more chancesand
we have more experience.”
Zheng worked with other intellectuals to craft statements of
support for the students including the famous “Declaration of May
“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
“Once in [Tiananmen] Square you did anything and
everything that needed doing.”
“Within the movement we consistently adhered to the
principles of peace, reason and nonviolence.”
—1993 “Peace Charter”
of inciting subversion and attempting to overthrow the socialist
system, Zhang was sentenced in January 1991 to a three-year term.
“We believe, no matter whether the government does or does not, that history
will recognize this movement as a patriotic and democratic movement….”
“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.”
Ma Shaofang, the former Beijing Film Academy student who
was No. 10 on the most wanted student list, has remained politically
active in China.
ment of a democratic system is crucially
important. Democracy is the only way to avoid a second Tiananmen.”
Authorities charged Yang Tao had been an instigator of a “counterrevolutionary
rebellion,” had “advocated bourgeois liberalism,” and “wantonly
“1989 was the very first time the Chinese people themselves directly
faced the regime. Before that time, there was only hope.
“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.”
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.
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.
“Tiananmen 100 percent changed my life. Even since ’89, I’ve tried
to make people understand what life without human rights is really
—May 24, 2004
“June 4, 1989 was one of the most important events of the
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