China Seminar | 10 September 2009

Tiananmen: Portal to Modern Chinese History

Daniel W. Y. Kwok Daniel W. Y. Kwok

Tiananmen, Gate of Heavenly Peace, serves also as a portal through which major events in China’s modern passage can be viewed and interpreted. From the mid-20th century on, every ninth year of the decade since the founding of the republic on October 1 in 1949 offers a chance at a historical decalogue. Professor Kwok explores the historical meanings of Tiananmen events, keeping in mind that monuments often tell different sides of history. As with his talk on the Anti-Rightist Movement in January this year, this talk is given in appreciation of a quote from the modern writer Zhang Kangkang: “There is no tomorrow for a people who cannot use the present to reexamine the past.”

The founding convener of the China Seminar, Kwok is professor emeritus of history at the University of Hawaii, where he taught Chinese history and world civilizations. He has served in numerous posts, including chair of Asian Studies, chair of the Department of History, and director of the Center for Chinese Studies. He also founded and directed the university’s Asia Fellowships Program for Journalists. He publishes principally in Chinese intellectual history.