This article was originally published by the LSE Review of Books on 15 September, 2014.
The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited. Louisa Lim. Oxford University Press. 2014.
It is astonishing that the 25th anniversary of one of the key events in China’s modern history has triggered comparatively little academic activity. The occupation of Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators in the spring of 1989 and the ensuing massacre in the streets of Beijing committed by the People’s Liberation Army was an event that brought many consequences for China. It thoroughly put an end to any reform of China’s political system while ensuring the continuation and indeed acceleration of the country’s economic transformation. It also ushered in a new era in which the history of class struggle has been turned into a history of China’s national humiliation. Finally, it made it possible to elevate nationalism and consumerism to core values supported by the party-state and to legitimate to a considerable extent the enormous effort and cost of the now most important task of ‘stability maintenance’.