It’s an economic powerhouse and the largest trading partner of many western countries. After it loosened the restrictions on its economy in the late 1980s, many thought that Western-style political reform would follow in China. Instead, the Chinese government adopted its own version of democracy, allowing for a market-driven economy while cracking down on individual expression and freedoms and any action that might challenge the decisions of the ruling party. More than 20 years after the Tiananmen Square uprising, people still ask the fundamental question: why has China not embraced democracy?
Now, in this remarkable book, Michel Cormier exposes the stillborn legacy of democratic reform in China. In The Legacy of Tianamen Square, veteran journalist Michel Cormier examines the century-long battle to bring democracy to China. It begins with a handful of brave souls led by Sun Yat-sen at the turn of the twentieth century and peaks with the student uprising of 1989 — an event now completely erased from the official histories of the country.
Using historical research, including transcripts from Party meetings, and candid interviews with dissidents — Cormier gives a human face to a century of struggle and uncovers the many subtle ways that change is now being achieved, one tiny victory at a time. Translated by Jonathan Kaplansky and updated by the author to reflect events in China, The Legacy of Tiananmen Square is an important addition to the discussion of modern China and its place in the world.
“Cormier tells the story of the twisted and tortured path of Chinese-style democracy with purpose and clarity. … Cormier has written a moving and tragic book, but one that is by no means hopeless.”– Publisher’s Weekly
“For a Western audience, still glued to the photo of a man with shopping bags staring down a phalanx of military-green tanks on the day after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, democracy in China has taken on that quality of being an impossible and unreachable dream — something the Chinese just don’t get and never will. Michel Cormier’s short The Legacy of Tiananmen Square
is here to dispel that impression. … Cormier succeeds in transforming this ambitious project into an easy-to-read précis for a world in growing need of understanding a country with which it has deepening ties.”– iPolitics
“The Legacy of Tiananmen Square
is a fascinating recounting of tumultuous political missteps and the devastating human cost of ideological intransigence.”– Scene
“Cormier’s history is rich and nuanced, showing the conflict of policy, politics, and strategy both within the regime and among its opponents.”– Quill & Quire
“In The Legacy of Tiananmen Square
, fluidly translated into English by Jonathan Kaplansky, Cormier asks why democratization efforts in China have repeatedly failed. … Cormier’s central argument — that Tiananmen’s legacy was the entrenchment of authoritarianism — is nonetheless persuasive.”– Montreal Review of Books
“Michel Cormier’s passion for telling the story of the Chinese people is obvious throughout The Legacy of Tiananmen Square
. It’s an important work of journalism that traces the forces that collided in the centre of Beijing on June 4, 1989, and explains where that collision leaves today’s China. Michel Cormier makes it clear that China is still reeling from what took place during those bloody days. The country, as he writes, is still locked in an ‘unfinished battle.’ Read this book if you want to understand why the Tiananmen Square crackdown still matters almost 25 years later and why the struggle for democracy continues.”
“Michel Cormier’s recounting of China’s push for liberal democracy puts the country’s more than a century-long struggle in an illuminating historical context, reaching from the reforms of Sun Yat-sen to the emblem of this habitually stalled progression that Tiananmen Square has become, and beyond. Shining a light on the country’s dissidents, Cormier manages what only the most effective historians do, which is to constantly remember that politics is never more than the sum of the actions of remarkable people and to show momentous change through the lens that each provides.”