Who speaks for China? Is it the old men of the politbureau or an activist like Wei Jingshsheng, who spent eighteen years in prison for writing a democratic manifesto? Is China’s future to be found amid the boisterous sleaze of an electoral campaign in Taiwan or in the maneuvers by which ordinary residents of Beijing quietly resist the authority of the state?
These are among the questions that Ian Buruma poses in this enlightening and often moving tour of Chinese dissidence. Moving from the quarrelsome exile communities of the U. S. to Singapore and Hong Kong and from persecuted Christians to Internet “hacktivists,” Buruma captures an entire spectrum of opposition to the orthodoxies of the Communist Party. He explores its historical antecedents its conflicting notions of freedom and the paradoxical mix of courage and cussedness that inspires its members. Panoramic and intimate, disturbing and inspiring, Bad Elements is a profound meditation on the themes of national identity and political struggle.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Bad Elements|
|Release Date: 11-12-2002|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Exile from Tiananmen Square
We will never know how many people were killed during that sticky night of June 3 and the early hours of June 4, 1989. A stink of burning vehicles, gunfire, and stale sweat hung heavily on Tiananmen Square; thousands of tired bodies huddled in fear around the Monument to the People’s Heroes, with its carved images of earlier rebels: the Taiping, the Boxers, the Communists of course, and also the student demonstrators of May 4, 1919, who saw “Mr. Science” and “Mr. Democracy” as the twin solutions to China’s political problems. The huge, rosy face of Chairman Mao stared from the wall of the Forbidden City across three or four dead bodies lying where his outsize shoes would have been had his portrait stretched that far. Tracer bullets and flaming cars lit up the sky in bursts of pale orange. Loudspeakers barked orders to leave the square immediately, or else. Spotlights were switched off and then on again. And over the din of machine-gun fire, breaking glass, stamping army boots, screaming people, wailing sirens, and rumbling APCs, young voices, hoarse from exhaustion, sang the “Internationale,” followed by the patriotic hit song of the year, “Descendants of the Dragon”:
In the ancient East there is a dragon;
China is its name.
In the ancient East there lives a people,
The dragon’s heirs every one.
Under the claws of this mighty dragon I grew up
And its descendant I have become.
Like it or not—
Once and fore