On the Eve of the 1989 Movement

Dingxin Zhao

in The Power of Tiananmen

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780226982601
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226982625 | DOI:
On the Eve of the 1989 Movement

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By the late 1980s, China's economic reform had gone into a deep crisis. Inflation and corruption hounded Chinese society. People's confidence in the reform was at its lowest point, and grievances mounted. The emerging economic crisis not only further radicalized the liberal intellectual elites but also alienated the rest of the students and urban residents. To better understand the mass support for the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, this chapter discusses the socioeconomic environment immediately before the movement's outbreak. It argues that, among other activities, going abroad had been a major route for Chinese students to escape from the unhappy domestic reality, and that the diminishing possibilities for going abroad at the end of the 1980s drew students to domestic politics. As 1989 approached, some intellectual elites persistently pushed for desired social changes — actions that constituted the final episode before the rise of the 1989 Movement.

Keywords: China; economic reform; inflation; corruption; economic crisis; intellectual elites; students; 1989 Beijing Student Movement; social changes

Chapter.  7684 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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