The post-Mao political order was ushered in at the Eleventh National
Party Congress in August of 1977. The congress proclaimed the formal
end of the Cultural Revolution, placing the blame for it on the "Gang
of Four," led by Jiang Qing, Mao’s widow. By December of
1978, Deng Xiaoping, known as a moderate, successfully consolidated
his leadership of the Party, and launched a reform program known as "The
Four Modernizations." By developing technological expertise in
the fields of agriculture, industry, science, and defense, China hoped
to emerge as a modern industrial state by the century’s end.
Alongside these reform measures, a popular movement emerged in 1978-1989
calling for a "fifth modernization," namely democracy. A "Democracy
Wall" emerged in Beijing where, for a period, people freely posted
their ideas, testimonies of past injustices and insufferable hardships,
and criticisms of party hardliners. The wall was subsequently abolished
and the leaders of the movement arrested. Calls for the furthering
of democratic reforms and a greater tolerance of expressive freedom
by China’s intellectuals and students culminated in the 1989
demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
Almost a Revolution is a memoir of China's democracy movement
and the June 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident as seen through the eyes
of student leader, Shen Tong. As an organizer of the "dialogue delegation," whose
goal was to negotiate with the government, Shen offers an insider's record
of the day-to-day decisions that led up to the events of June 4, 1989.
This book highlights the bold aspirations, hopes, and political motivations
of a new generation of Chinese who protested the restraints imposed by
their country's government.