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Tiananmen redux

The hard truth about the expanded neoliberal world order

Johan Lagerkvist

This book contends that the massacre of civilians in Beijing on June Fourth 1989 was a pivotal rupture in both Chinese and world history. If not for that day, China’s socioeconomic, political and cultural landscape would not have undergone the kind of dramatic transformation that has made China rich but unequal, open but hyper-nationalist, moralistic but immoral and unhappy. Through the lens of global history the book revisits the drama of Tiananmen and demonstrates how it unfolded, ended, and ultimately how that ending – in a consensus of forgetting – came to shape the world of the 21 st century. It offers a theorization on the inclusion of China into global capitalism and argues that the planetary project of neoliberalism has been prolonged by China’s market reforms. This has resulted in an ongoing convergence of economic and authoritarian political practices that transcend otherwise contrasting political systems. With China’s growing global influence, the late leader Deng Xiaoping’s statement that «development is a hard truth» increasingly conveys the logic of our contemporary world.


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List of important names


Party leaders Bao Tong Secretary to General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. Sentenced to seven years in prison after June Fourth. Bo Yibo One of the Communist Party’s Eight Elders. Former Politburo member and Vice Premier. Chen Yun One of the Communist Party’s Eight Elders. Most influential elder after Deng Xiaoping. Chen held a number of different posts from the 1950s until his death in 1995, most prominently in the fields of economic planning and Party organisation. Heavily influenced by Soviet advisors during the 1950s, Chen was sceptical of market reform and investors from foreign capitalist countries. Chen Xitong Mayor of Beijing. Became Beijing Party Secretary and member of the Politburo in 1992. Expelled from the Party and sentenced to 16 years in prison for corruption in 1996. Deng Xiaoping Credited as the creator of China’s policy of “gaige kaifang”, i.e., reform and opening up to the world. Leader of the Communist Party’s Eight Elders and, most importantly, Chairman of the Party’s Central Military Affairs Commission. 332 Deng Yingchao One of the Communist Party’s Eight Elders. Chairman of the party. Former member of the Politburo and chair of the All-China Women’s Federation, chair of the CPPCC, widow of former Premier Zhou Enlai. Hua Guofeng Chairman Mao Zedong’s chosen heir. Spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in Mao’s home province of Hunan. He became Vice Premier and Minister of Public Security in 1975. He was the Party’s Chairman and paramount leader between 1976 and 1978, when Deng Xiaoping re- turned...

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