torsdag 23. mai 2019

The Remarkable Survival of Free Thought and Activism in China

Thirty years ago this week, thousands of students occupied Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, engaging in a hunger strike to call for political and economic reform. Other citizens across the country –professors, workers, even Communist Party cadres — were slowly joining in their demands for democracy and transparency. The movement was violently crushed on the night of June 4, 1989, but over the decades that followed, a budding civil society sector began to develop and professionalize; investigative journalism and legal advocacy provoked policy changes; and the country experienced a religious revival.

Political repression, surveillance, and censorship have all intensified since 2012 under the leadership of Communist Party head Xi Jinping. Even so, various forms of protest and activism have survived and continue to emerge. The following trends point to an environment that is highly restrictive but also more complex, and potentially less stable, than it first appears.