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... on his mind. The students’ demonstration came at a crucial moment in his personal struggle with Zhao Ziyang (then the Party chief, having succeeded Hu Yaobang) for the succession to Deng Xiaoping’s power. The decline of Deng, now 84, was flashed onto the world’s TV screens when he was seen dropping his morsels of chicken from unsteady chopsticks at ...

The Scissors Gap

Rebecca E. Karl: China takes it slow, 21 October 2021

How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate 
by Isabella Weber.
Routledge, 358 pp., £29.99, May, 978 1 03 200849 3
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... were abandoned (fang), reformed (gai), adjusted (tiao) and made to participate (can) in exchange. Zhao Ziyang, then on his way to becoming general secretary, popularised the policy’s four-character slogan. He also made clear that ‘the state intervenes in the market, and the market drives the enterprises.’ Rejecting the full price reforms ...

Zhao’s Version

Andrew Nathan: Zhao Ziyang, 17 December 2009

Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang 
by Zhao Ziyang, translated by Bao Pu, Renee Chiang and Adi Ignatius.
Simon and Schuster, 306 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 84737 697 8
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... afternoon of 23 April 1989, China’s highest-ranking official, the Party’s general secretary Zhao Ziyang, left from Beijing railway station for an official visit to North Korea. Zhao had considered cancelling the trip because of the student demonstrations that had broken out in Beijing eight days earlier, but ...

‘Comrade Jiang Zemin does indeed seem a proper choice’

Jasper Becker: Tiananmen Square, 24 May 2001

The Tiananmen Papers 
by Zhang Liang, edited by Andrew Nathan and Perry Link.
Little, Brown, 513 pp., £20, January 2001, 0 316 85693 2
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... to become China’s next dictator. The dismissals of Jiang Zemin’s predecessors, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, were handled in a similarly imperious way. Link said recently in Hong Kong that he felt sure that one day the official line on Tiananmen would be changed and that this book’s revelations would help bring that about. But earlier this ...

Tiananmen Revisited

Philippa Tristram, 19 November 1992

... that point, though every sign suggests they wanted to avoid a showdown, even after the fall of Zhao Ziyang, the factors that combined to make one inevitable were multiplying. On 10 May Wang Dan reversed his decision: demonstrations would be held when Gorbachev arrived. Two days later the first hunger strike began. What explains the ...


Jon Cannon: In Chengdu, China, 13 December 2001

... in advance of the rest of the country – by his protégé, the provincial Party Secretary, Zhao Ziyang. In 2001 a new dual carriageway cuts across the street. Further along are two new office blocks, one half-finished, the other with a fake baroque doorway and a liveried goon. It’s early summer, hot and humid. The market extends either side of ...


Chaohua Wang: Remembering Tiananmen, 5 July 2007

... into political protests in the movement of 1989. Their target was the way Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang, then secretary-general of the Communist Party, ruled the country. Particularly powerful in mobilising protest was Zhao’s description of his reforms as ‘crossing a river by stepping one by one on stones ...

Taking the Bosses Hostage

Joshua Kurlantzick: China goes into reverse, 26 March 2009

Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China 
by Leslie Chang.
Picador, 432 pp., £12.99, February 2009, 978 0 330 50670 0
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Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State 
by Yasheng Huang.
Cambridge, 366 pp., £15.99, November 2008, 978 0 521 89810 2
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... the reforms in such a way as to protect the party politically. As Bao Tong, a former aide to Zhao Ziyang, Deng’s premier, has noted, Deng never had any intention of abandoning one-party rule or embracing political reform. But he realised that without economic reforms, the Chinese people might abandon the party. In a famous speech, Deng declared ...

Little Old Grandfather

Thomas Meaney: Djilas and Stalin, 19 May 2016

Conversations with Stalin 
by Milovan Djilas, translated by Michael Petrovich.
Penguin, 160 pp., £9.99, January 2014, 978 0 14 139309 4
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... for parallel figures in the authoritarian regimes of the postwar decades, several come to mind, Zhao Ziyang first among them. But if you search the liberal capitalist regimes of the West of the same period for dissenters who occupied comparable positions of high office, an unusual set of characters emerges. One is Henry Wallace, vice-president under ...

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