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Teaching about Tiananmen Square

Please join us for a special workshop for educators on the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy demonstrations and their violent suppression.
April 4, 2014
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Please join us for a special workshop for educators on the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy demonstrations and their violent suppression. Made possible by a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, this workshop is held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC.

Workshop: Teaching about Tiananmen Square
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014]
Time: 9:00AM - 1:15PM
Location: USC, Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism, ASC 204
Cost: Free, please write to uschina@usc.edu or call 213-821-4382 to save a seat.  

**Parking pass, breakfast, and lunch will be provided.

The workshop includes:

  • the new Tiananmen Square segment in our Assignment:China documentary series (each participating teacher will receive a dvd copy of the documentary)
  • a chance to discuss the movement and coverage of it with Wang Chaohua, who was then a student leader and is now an author and professor, and Terril Jones, a reporter who was covering the demonstrations and took a now famous ground-level shot of the standoff between a lone man and a line of tanks
  • a presentation by Clayton Dube on the events leading up to the protests and why it is vital to remember what happened that spring and how it continues to influence China's leaders, China's people, and outside perceptions of China
  • a guide to the best materials available for teaching about Tiananmen Square and its aftermath

After the workshop, you may wish to visit the many stalls or attend one of the talks or performances of America's largest book festival.


Twenty-five years ago, in April 1989, students in Beijing seized upon the death of Hu Yaobang, a deposed leader of the Communist Party, to criticize their government and to call for political change. They chose Tiananmen Square, the symbolic political center of China, to memorialize Hu, who had been replaced in 1987 for being insufficiently firm and effective in suppressing earlier demonstrations in the square. Their demonstrations were emulated in other cities. Non-students joined the protests as the students added condemnation of official corruption and rampant inflation to their list of grievances.

The demonstrations were condemned as counter-revolutionary in the Communist Party's People's Daily. The authorities mobilized troops. But protestors held onto the square and the center of the city. Eventually, martial law was declared.
 
Party leaders were divided on how to end the demonstrations. They were commited to ending them, in part because it was not the backdrop they wanted for the planned May visit by Mikhail Gorbachev to Beijing. The visit, in some respects, was expected to be as dramatic as Richard Nixon's meetings with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in 1972. The top leaders of the two largest Communist states had not met for thirty years. Reformers Deng Xiaoping and Gorbachev were anxious to put ideological and other differences behind them. Top news names descended on Beijing to cover the summit.

The world watched, read and listened to the protests and, later, to their violent suppression. It was one of the first global media moments. Many were moved and some inspired by the words and images transmitted from the Square. Some of those who led and participated in the smashing of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of the Soviet domination over Eastern Europe said they were influenced by the people power they saw exhibited in Beijing. Czech dissident turned president Vaclav Havel was one such person.

And there was great condemnation when China's leaders resolved their division and moved to crush the demonstrations. Petitions were circulated. Remembrances were held. Governments imposed sanctions. In China, the government stepped up propaganda efforts, vilifying the demonstration leaders and arguing that foreign governments were instigating and benefiting from the unrest.

Join us, please, as we examine what happened in Beijing 25 years ago and why it still matters for China and for the rest of the world.

About the Speakers:

Wang Chaohua was a graduate student and a participate of the 1989 student-led protest in Beijing's central Tiananmen Square. She became an exile based in Los Angeles after the military crackdown 25 years ago. She then enrolled in Chinese studies program at UCLA, earning her MA and Ph.D degrees in modern Chinese culture and literature. She is now an independent scholar and a visiting lecturer in UCLA's Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. She edited a collection of translated texts by leading Chinese intellectuals, published with her own introduction under the title One China, Many Paths (Verso, 2003). The book won a Choice's Best Academic Title recognition. She has published in both English and Chinese essays on contemporary Chinese intellectual life and political analyses.  

Terril Jones is a longtime foreign and business correspondent. He covered Japan, France, north Africa and the United Nations for 15 years with The Associated Press, was a founding editor of Forbes Global magazine, was the Detroit-based automotive correspondent for Forbes and the Los Angeles Times, and was a Silicon Valley correspondent for the L.A. Times. In September he completed a three-year assignment in Beijing with Reuters covering Chinese businesses, domestic politics and foreign policy. He spent his 8th grade year at a Chinese school in Taiwan, and had numerous extended reporting assignments in China in the 1980s. He studied Chinese leadership studies at the University of Michigan for a year as a Knight-Wallace Fellow, and digital media for six months at Ohio State University as a Kiplinger Fellow. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and French. 

Clayton Dube has headed the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California since it was established in 2006.  Dube first lived and worked in China from 1982 to 1985. He has won teaching awards at three universities and received the 2012 Perryman Fund Social Studies Educator of the Year Award. Trained as an socio-economic historian, Dube's work focuses on the impact of economic and political change on Chinese society and on the multifaceted and evolving U.S.-China relationship. Dube serves on the editorial board of Education about Asia, was associate editor of the academic quarterly Modern China, and has produced or consulted on several documentary films. Dube is co-moderator of Chinapol, a fellow of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and a director of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. He's frequently cited by American and Chinese media.

Co-sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation


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