San Jiao Di, or “Three Corners Place,” is a small triangular spot on the campus of Peking University, fenced off by bulletin boards. It has been sitting there for decades: when the university was braving the Cultural Revolution storm, the bulletin boards got covered in “Big Characters Posters,” or “Dazibao,” that announced struggles and irretrievable falls from grace for anyone that the Red Guards deemed not revolutionary enough, or not revolutionary in the right way.
As that madness blew over, and universities across the country reopened, the billboards at San Jiao Di would simply carry the national newspapers, all under the control of the Party. On occasion, one could find something more interesting: during the “Democracy Wall” months, from 1978 to 1979, San Jiao Di too would sport some provocative essays – even if most of these were kept for the Xidan Street brick wall in central Beijing, which has long since been torn down. After that, most fliers were pretty tame, and the occasional interesting one would be talked about by many.