Black Hands of Beijing: Lives of Defiance in China's Democracy Movement

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This vivid chronicle of the lives of three indomitable Chinese compatriots reveals the defiant spirit that drives the struggle for democracy in China. No other book has so expertly rendered the inner workings of the Chinese democracy movement from its first inspiring tremors in 1976 to the present. Who are these heroes, who were all branded chief conspirators behind the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989? Among them are the fiery and charismatic Wang Juntao and the brilliant theorist Chen Ziming, founder of ...
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Overview

This vivid chronicle of the lives of three indomitable Chinese compatriots reveals the defiant spirit that drives the struggle for democracy in China. No other book has so expertly rendered the inner workings of the Chinese democracy movement from its first inspiring tremors in 1976 to the present. Who are these heroes, who were all branded chief conspirators behind the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989? Among them are the fiery and charismatic Wang Juntao and the brilliant theorist Chen Ziming, founder of China's most important independent think tank. Through their eyes the first momentous demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1976 spring to life and we share in the heady excitement of the Democracy Wall movement of 1978-79, when critical voices suddenly burst forth on posters all over China. As the Beijing regime cracks down on the movement, we sit in on Chen and Wang's secret strategy sessions, identified as the nerve center of the 1989 protests. On the eve of the '89 protests, we meet Han Dongfang, the fiercely determined Beijing railroad worker, known as the "Lech Walesa of China." As the workers become a potent force in the Square, triggering the worst fears of the communist regime, it is Han who emerges as their leader. We follow his deepening commitment to the movement as he inspires the workers in their protests through his stirring speeches. In the central section of the book, re-created with painstaking precision, the exact course of events in those riveting days in the Square unfolds as never told before. Step by step, the protests take on a life of their own, climaxing at the crucial turning point when compromise with the regime becomes impossible and the use of force inevitable. The final chapters recount the gripping stories of life on the run of those targeted by the regime in the crackdown after the protests. We follow Wang Juntao from one hiding place to the next, and Chen Ziming as he winds his way from Inner Mongolia to the South China Coast
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, China's communist leaders scapegoated ``black hands,'' individuals portrayed as sinister conspirators who supposedly manipulated the masses. Based on scores of interviews with participants in China's democracy movement, this dramatic, absorbing chronicle interweaves the lives of three ``black hands.'' Activist Wang Juntao and social scientist Chen Ziming edited a moderate protest journal and led a ``think tank'' that unsuccessfully tried to mediate the conflict between student protesters and the Communist Party. Falsely accused of masterminding the Tiananmen rally, they are serving long prison terms. Han Dongfang, bold speechmaker at Tiananmen Square, organized communist China's first independent trade union. Tortured in prison, he was recently released and came to the U.S. for medical treatment. Black, foreign affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times , and Munro, China specialist for Human Rights Watch, provide an invaluable glimpse of the regime's methods of repression and of clandestine opposition groups still operating deep underground. (May)
Library Journal
Black and Munro's account of the 1989 democracy movement uses segments of dialog between China's best-known reformers--in particular, Wang Juntao, Chen Ziming, and Han Dongfang--to render a surreal picture of life outside the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) structure, branded as a ``black hand.'' The authors, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a China specialist for Human Rights Watch, respectively, claim to represent reality, albeit from the points of view of the black hands. The implicit messages are identified quite easily. First, the reformers preached moderation and encouraged the CCP to adopt a civil justice system. Second, because of an inability to ``smash the rice bowl,'' Deng Xiaoping and the CCP were more threatened by workers than students. Third, the democracy movement was affected profoundly by outside influences . The authors graphically describe how dissidents are treated in prison and note the consistent control of individuals in Chinese society. The book reads like fiction despite the authors' impressive research. Recommended.-- Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, Ill.
Booknews
Black writes a column on foreign affairs for the Los Angeles Times; Munro is a research associate with Asia Watch (a part of the New York City-based organization Human Rights Watch). They seek to bring the drama of modern China alive to a broad audience, using as their vehicle the lives of three people working in China for democracy at great personal sacrifice. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Joe Collins
Black and Munro maintain that the extent of death and destruction at Tiananmen Square was far less than that portrayed by the American media. In their fascinating look at the democracy movement in China, they meticulously trace the dissidents' progress from their protest following the death of Premier Zhou Enlai through the alliance of students and workers and the resultant bloodshed on June 4, 1989, in Tiananmen Square. Blood was let there at the hands of Deng Xiaoping's "red hands" ("black hands" refers to those who were perceived as threats to the ruling party). The leaders of the black hands include the brilliant but humorless Chen Ziming (the idea man for the movement), the charming yet intense Wang Juntao (the action man), and union organizer Han Dongfang, along with many other fiery opposition leaders (including several women). The passion of these dissidents helps the reader understand the evolution of one of the twentieth century's most dramatic protest movements.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471579779
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/3/1993
  • Series: Robert L. Bernstein Bks.
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Table of Contents

BOOK 1: REFORMERS.
Growing Up in the Big Storm.
Festival of the Dead.
The Thinking Generation.
The Frontiers of Gengshen.
Apprenticeships.
Going Independent.
Cracks in the Fabric.
The Blueprint Faction.
BOOK 2: TIANANMEN.
``A Planned Conspiracy''.
Masters of the House.
Pushed to Center Stage.
State Secrets.
The Eclipse of Reason.
The Polish Disease.
Power Comes from the Barrel of a Gun.
BOOK 3: SCAPEGOATS.
``A Conspiratorial Clique''.
Rest in a New Forest.
Crime and Punishment.
To Those Who Resist, Severity.
Petitioners.
Cast of Characters.
Index.
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