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Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation

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Title: Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation  
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Subject: April 27 demonstrations, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, A Tiananmen Journal, History of the People's Republic of China, History of Beijing
Collection: 1989 in China, Chinese Revolutions, Civil Rights Protests, Conflicts in 1989, Defunct Organizations, History of Beijing, History of the People's Republic of China, Illegal Organizations, Mass Murder in 1989, Massacres in China, Organizations Disestablished in 1989, Organizations Established in 1989, Protest-Related Deaths, Protests in China, Riots and Civil Disorder in China, Socialism in China, Student Protests in China, Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989
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Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation

An photo of Pu Zhiqiang, a student protester at Tiananmen, taken on 10 May 1989.

The Beijing Students’ Autonomous Federation was a self-governing student organization, representing multiple Beijing universities, and acting as the student protesters’ principle decision-making body during the

  • Calhoun, Craig J. 1994. Neither Gods Nor Emperors: Students and the Struggle for Democracy in China. University of California Press.
  • Francis, Corinna-Barbara. 1989. “The Progress of Protest in China: The Spring of 1989.” Asian Survey 29 (9): 898–915. doi:10.2307/2644834.
  • King, Sarah Sanderson, and Donald P. Cushman. 1992. Political Communication: Engineering Visions of Order in the Socialist World. SUNY Press.
  • Li, Peter, Marjorie H. Li, and Steven Mark. 2009. Culture and Politics in China: An Anatomy of Tiananmen Square. Transaction Publishers.
  • Saich, Tony. 1990. “The Rise and Fall of the Beijing People’s Movement.” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, no. 24 (July): 181–208. doi:10.2307/2158894.
  • Wright, Teresa. 1999. “State Repression and Student Protest in Contemporary China.” The China Quarterly 157: 142–72. doi:10.1017/S0305741000040236.
  • Zhang, Liang, Andrew J Nathan, and E. Perry Link. 2002. The Tiananmen Papers. New York: PublicAffairs.
  • Zhao, Dingxin. 2008. The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement. University of Chicago Press.

Sources Cited

  1. ^ Craig J. Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors: Students and the Struggle for Democracy in China (University of California Press, 1994), 46.
  2. ^ Sarah Sanderson King and Donald P. Cushman, Political Communication: Engineering Visions of Order in the Socialist World (SUNY Press, 1992), 120.
  3. ^ a b c Corinna-Barbara Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China: The Spring of 1989,” Asian Survey 29, no. 9 (September 1, 1989): 904, doi:10.2307/2644834.
  4. ^ a b c Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 41.
  5. ^ a b c d e Peter Li, Marjorie H. Li, and Steven Mark, Culture and Politics in China: An Anatomy of Tiananmen Square (Transaction Publishers, 2009), 157.
  6. ^ a b c King and Cushman, Political Communication, 121.
  7. ^ a b Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 911.
  8. ^ a b Tony Saich, “The Rise and Fall of the Beijing People’s Movement,” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, no. 24 (July 1, 1990): 190, doi:10.2307/2158894.
  9. ^ a b c d e Teresa Wright, “State Repression and Student Protest in Contemporary China,” The China Quarterly 157 (1999): 155, doi:10.1017/S0305741000040236.
  10. ^ a b Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 907.
  11. ^ Saich, “The Rise and Fall of the Beijing People’s Movement,” 198.
  12. ^ Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 67.
  13. ^ King and Cushman, Political Communication, 117.
  14. ^ a b Wright, “State Repression and Student Protest in Contemporary China,” 150.
  15. ^ Li, Li, and Mark, Culture and Politics in China, 155.
  16. ^ a b c Li, Li, and Mark, Culture and Politics in China, 159.
  17. ^ Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 39.
  18. ^ a b Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 53.
  19. ^ a b Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 908.
  20. ^ Eddie Cheng, Standoff at Tiananmen (Sensys Corporation, 2009), 88-99.
  21. ^ a b c Wright, “State Repression and Student Protest in Contemporary China,” 154.
  22. ^ a b c d e Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 909.
  23. ^ Li, Li, and Mark, Culture and Politics in China, 158.
  24. ^ Saich, “The Rise and Fall of the Beijing People’s Movement,” 191.
  25. ^ Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 915.
  26. ^ Li, Li, and Mark, Culture and Politics in China, 213.
  27. ^ a b c Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 56.
  28. ^ Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 910.
  29. ^ a b c d e King and Cushman, Political Communication, 122.
  30. ^ a b c Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 912.
  31. ^ Francis, “The Progress of Protest in China,” 905.
  32. ^ Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 59.
  33. ^ Calhoun, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, 83.
  34. ^ Dingxin Zhao, The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement (University of Chicago Press, 2008), 179.
  35. ^ a b c Liang Zhang, Andrew J Nathan, and E. Perry Link, The Tiananmen Papers (New York: PublicAffairs, 2002), 117.
  36. ^ a b c Zhang, Nathan, and Link, The Tiananmen Papers, 118.
  37. ^ Zhang, Nathan, and Link, The Tiananmen Papers, 158.
  38. ^ a b Zhang, Nathan, and Link, The Tiananmen Papers, 159.

References

On May 13, after the hunger striker’s announced their plan, Yan Mingfu, Director of the Party’s United Front Work Department, met with a number of intellectuals and student protesters, including Wang Dan, Chai Ling, and Wuer Kaixi.[37] At the meeting, Yan Mingfu suggested that if the student protesters stopped their hunger strike and instead submitted their “demands and suggestions through proper channels,” he could assure them that “the door to dialogue” would remain open.[38] However, when he later briefed Zhao Ziyang on the meeting, Yan Mingfu shared his unease at the divisions he observed among the student protesters: “the AFS [the Federation], the Dialogue Delegation, and representatives of the hunger strikers…are in disagreement among themselves…I’m not sure any of them truly represents the hunger strikers or can exert any influence on them.”[38]

[36] In his conversation with Zhao, Li also asserted that the Federation’s primary goal was to “negate the leadership of the CCP and negate the entire socialist system.”[36] Li objected to the Federation’s desire “to negotiate with the Party and government as equals” and saw the students’ twelve-point petition as a “threat.”[35] Speaking with

Government Response

On May 4, the Federation successfully organized a demonstration of over 100,000 protesters in Tiananmen Square, marking the 70-year anniversary of the 1919 May 4 Movement.[9] Also on May 4, the Federation decided to end the boycott on class attendance it had begun on April 24.[31] This sudden and unexpected end to the boycott, and loss of momentum in student-government negotiations, resulted in a loss of student enthusiasm for the protests.[9][29] As student leader Chai Ling noted “the movement dwindled to a low point as more and more students returned to classes.”[32] In an attempt to reinvigorate the movement, Chai Ling and other students started a hunger strike on the Square.[9] Although the Federation initially opposed the hunger strikers during its May 12 meeting, it eventually decided to support individual strikers, but avoided official endorsement of the Hunger Strike Group.[5] As the protests continued throughout May and into June, the Hunger Strike Group would take control of events in the Square, and would largely displace the authority previously held by the Beijing Students’ Autonomous Federation.[33][34]

Division and Decline

On May 1, the Federation rejected the legitimacy of the April 29 dialogue in a news conference.[7] The following day, the Federation presented a twelve-point petition, including a demand that future government efforts at dialogue be sincere.[29] Although the government rejected this petition,[29] the petition represented a compromise on the students’ part, as Amnesty International researcher Corinna-Barbara Francis suggests.[30] That is, instead of demanding explicit government recognition, the students only asked for dialogue “on the basis of full equality between the two parties.”[30] By May 29, the students’ demands were reduced to two: denunciation of the April 26 editorial by the government and acknowledgement of the federation’s democratic nature.[30]

After the April 27 student demonstrations,[22] the government held its first dialogue with the Federation leaders on April 29.[6] However, the government avoided direct contact with the Federation, instead inviting student leaders to meet on an individual basis.[27] While some students saw the government’s offer as a victory,[22] others felt that they should only attend the dialogue as recognized representatives of the Federation.[22][27] Wuer Kaixi, a Federation leader, attended the dialogue as a “private individual”,[27] but decided to leave midway through to protest the government’s lack of recognition of the Federation.[28] Dissatisfied with the dialogue, Wuer Kaixi later described it as a “trick of the government to destroy the student solidarity.”[29] During the meeting, State Council spokesman Yuan Mu insisted that the Communist Party and the student protesters shared the same goals.[29]

Between April 16 and 26, the government had dismissed the autonomous students’ demands for recognition and dialogue.[6][10] The government, unwilling to accept the legitimacy of the independent student unions,[19] had attempted instead to arrange talks with individual student leaders.[22] Although the student protesters believed they were acting patriotically[16] and morally,[24] the Communist leadership saw the students’ demands as a threat to political and social order.[25] As a result, the students had difficulty obtaining their goal of direct dialogue with the government.[26]

Dialogue and Recognition

[21] On April 26,

Another aim of the new Federation was the rejection of the official student organizations.[5] According to one student announcement, “the leadership of the original union is inept, has sold out the students’ interests…and is completely unable to represent the students’ wishes.”[4] In this way, the student protesters saw the Federation as representing the wishes of the entire student body.[3] The Federation planned to seek legitimacy by strict observance of democratic policies such as elections and group decision-making.[18] The students hoped these methods would ensure the organization’s unity of leadership,[19] and would effectively contrast with the lack of transparency they perceived in the Communist Party.[18] On May 23, the Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation established officially at Liu Gang's residence near Yuanmingyuan, during the first meeting, the students had elected Zhou Yongjun as the first chairman of the Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation.[20]

[17][16], became the leaders of the newly formed Beijing Students’ Autonomous Federation.Wang Dan Those who did, including history student [14] However, for fear of punishment by the government, few at the meeting were willing to speak out.[5] After former

Origin

Contents

  • Origin 1
  • Dialogue and Recognition 2
  • Division and Decline 3
  • Government Response 4
  • References 5
  • Sources Cited 6

[11][9] After failing to achieve direct dialogue with the government, the Federation lost support from student protesters, and its central leadership role within the Tiananmen Square protests.[4]’s authority.Chinese Communist Party By seeking this recognition, the Federation directly challenged the [10][5]

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