China Seminar | 9 May 2019

Tiananmen + 30: The Legacy of June 4, 1989 and Why China Can’t Get Past It

John Schidlovsky John Schidlovsky

Thirty years after the crackdown on demonstrators on June 4, 1989, near Tiananmen Square, the events still reverberate in China. This year the Communist Party of China is bracing for several sensitive historical dates – the 100th anniversary of the May 4th movement, the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen demonstrations and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Many Chinese have no knowledge of the demonstrations in 1989 that brought millions of citizens into the streets to demand democracy. But is the Communist Party’s policy of curbing dissent still motivated in part by the memory of 1989? Will there ever be a reappraisal of Tiananmen?

John Schidlovsky directed the International Reporting Project (1998-2018), a program to encourage international news coverage in the U.S. media. Previously he served as director of The Freedom Forum Asian Center in Hong Kong (1993- 1997), monitoring media changes during the transition of Hong Kong to Chinese rule. He was the curator of the Jefferson Fellowships program at the EWC (1990-1993). Schidlovsky was a reporter for nearly 20 years, including 13 years with The Baltimore Sun. He was The Sun’s Beijing bureau chief (1987-1990) and closely covered the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations and government crackdown. Earlier he served as The Sun’s New Delhi bureau chief. In 1983, Schidlovsky was a Gannett Foundation Fellow in Asian Studies at the UH and later journalist-in-residence at the EWC. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Nieman Reports, the American Journalism Review and elsewhere. He is the author of a forthcoming novel, The Woman From Beijing.