Wang Dan

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Protesters on an armored vehicle just outside of Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989. Credit Jeff Widener/Associated Press

I learned that I was China’s most wanted criminal while having my hair cut aboard a crowded, decrepit steamboat on the Yangtze River. The P.A. system suddenly blared that the Beijing Public Security Bureau had ordered the arrest of 21 students who were charged with instigating “counterrevolutionary riots” in Tiananmen Square. My name topped the list.

It was June of 1989, nine days after government troops and armored personnel carriers rolled into central Beijing and brutally crushed the seven-week-long student-led pro-democracy demonstrations.

The announcement on the boat rattled me. As one of the chief organizers of the protests, I was running away from the authorities in the capital.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beijing Hinders Free Speech in America

I spent nearly seven years in a Chinese prison for being a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. I was freed in 1998, and the Chinese government let me leave the country. I chose to go to the United States, where I could freely speak my mind without fear of being thrown in prison.

I earned a doctorate in history in 2009 and took a teaching position in Taiwan. I taught contemporary Chinese history and led a weekly seminar — a “China salon” — of open discussions about Chinese society and politics. Many of the seminar topics, like the 1989 protest movement and political reform, were taboo in the mainland but safe for public discussion in Taiwan.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I was younger I was arrested twice, and sentenced twice, because I had been a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and a participant in China’s civil rights movement. I was also released twice, giving me two opportunities — once in 1993 and again in 1998 — to make a choice between leaving China or remaining. The first time, I chose to stay. The second time, I chose to leave for America.

I have never regretted making that second choice, and now I want to reach out to Chen Guangcheng in Beijing and tell him he would not be making a mistake by doing the same.…  Seguir leyendo »

Twenty years ago, I was in Qincheng, the most well-known of China’s political prisons, along with several hundred other students and intellectuals who had taken part in the student movement of the previous summer. On a particularly cold winter morning, I sat on my bed and picked up my copy of The People’s Daily, the government newspaper we were allowed to read, and saw that Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.

I was overwhelmed by complicated feelings. We had not known much about Mr. Mandela’s story, but the message of his release was instantly clear to me: in the pursuit of freedom, there are times when we must pay the price of losing our freedom.…  Seguir leyendo »

El terremoto de Sichuan y los próximos Juegos Olímpicos de Pekín son quizá los acontecimientos más importantes de la China contemporánea desde las protestas y la matanza de la plaza de Tiananmen el 4 de junio de 1989, hace hoy 19 años. Ahora que China se dispone a presentarse ante el mundo después de un devastador desastre natural, ha llegado el momento de que los líderes chinos se olviden de las viejas heridas y ofrezcan una amnistía olímpica a todos los presos políticos y a quienes nos vimos obligados a partir al exilio por expresar pacíficamente nuestras opiniones. Sólo entonces el pueblo chino podrá trabajar unido para construir una nueva China sobre las ruinas de una tragedia nacional y aparecer ante el mundo como una nación respetuosa de los derechos dentro y fuera de sus fronteras.…  Seguir leyendo »