China – the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989

M. Anne Brown

in Human Rights and the Borders of Suffering

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780719061059
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700365 | DOI:
China – the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989

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During April and May of 1989, Beijing was the site of an extraordinary series of demonstrations and political actions that came to be known as ‘the Beijing Spring’. Protesters, which included students, called for democracy, freedom, dialogue with the government, the accountability of authorities and an end to corruption. This chapter explores how the principal categories of the Lockean narrative can shape the context for the understanding of and response to political injury. In the case of much of the Western response to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, the conceptualisation of man and the state is particularly important, as is the related articulation of the realms of ethics and politics. The chapter questions the adequacy of the terms of the debate between citizenship rights and human rights. After noting the sharp emergence of human rights onto the agenda of dealings between China and the West following the Tiananmen killings, the chapter looks at the terms in which the story of the massacre was presented in much Western commentary of the time.

Keywords: Tiananmen Square massacre; human rights; China; West; demonstrations; Beijing Spring; students; political injury; democracy; ethics

Chapter.  16670 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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