Fang Lizhi, an astrophysicist and former vice-president of the University of Science and Technology of China, was expelled from the Communist Party of China in 1987. He was granted asylum at the US embassy in Beijing before leaving the country in 1990. He is the 1989 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and is a professor of physics at the University of Arizona. (November 2011)

The Real Deng

Deng Xiaoping, Japan, October 1978
When a scientific experiment uncovers a new phenomenon, a scientist is pleased. When an experiment fails to reveal something that the scientist originally expected, that, too, counts as a result worth analyzing. A sense of the “nonappearance of the expected” was my first impression of Ezra Vogel’s Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. The term “human rights” does not appear in its index, and it turns out that this omission was not an oversight of the indexer. Systematic nonconsideration of human rights is one of the book’s features.

My ‘Confession’

The Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi at home in Beijing, shortly before taking refuge at the US embassy during and after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, 1989
On June 3, 1989, Deng Xiaoping ordered tanks into Beijing to suppress students who were demonstrating peacefully at Tiananmen Square. On the night of June 5, Raymond Burghardt, political counselor in the US embassy in Beijing, came to the hotel where my wife, Li Shuxian, and I were temporarily staying and invited us to “take refuge” in the embassy as “guests of President Bush.” He said we could stay as long as we needed. The matter soon became a point of contention in US–China relations.

The Past and the Future

Fang Lizhi addresses students, 1989
The student-led political movement that arose in April 1989 at Tiananmen was peaceful in its approach and aimed to accelerate the reform of China’s government. I therefore completely agreed with it and supported it.

The Hope for China

  1. “Some people,” declared Mao Zedong in 1959, “say that we have become isolated from the masses.”[^1] By “some people” Mao meant Peng Dehuai, a subordinate who had dared to criticize Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” which was just then creating in China the largest famine in world history. Throughout the …

Keeping the Faith

Introduction On June 4, the day after the People’s Liberation Army opened fire on the citizens of Beijing, the distinguished Chinese astrophysicist and dissident intellectual, Fang Lizhi, reluctantly sought refuge in the American embassy in Beijing with his physicist wife, Li Shuxian. They did so because they feared …

Letters from the Other China

INTRODUCTION Orville Schell During the student demonstrations that swept China toward the end of 1986, the brilliant astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, who was then vice-president of the University of Science and Technology, emerged, through his speeches to student groups, as the country’s most forceful advocate of democracy and human rights. The …

China’s Despair and China’s Hope

Fang Lizhi, an internationally respected astrophysicist, is China’s most prominent dissident. Formerly the vice-president of the University of Science and Technology in Anhui province, he was dismissed from his job and expelled from the Communist party in 1987, after being accused of encouraging student demonstrations in favor of democratic rights.