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C. II.1.b. Democracy Movement 1976-79

After Mao died in September 1976 there was a struggle at the top of the Party between ardent Maoists who had instigated the Cultural Revolution and officials anxious to promote stability. The emerging new leader Deng Xiaoping also sponsored economic (market) reforms. In this context there was a groundswell of political activity from below, first manifested in April 1976 in a popular ceremony of traditional mass mourning in Tiananmen Square for Prime Minister Zhou Enlai (viewed as a moderate), which was seen as a pro-Deng demonstration. This was the first expression of the Democracy Movement that blossomed in late 1978. Although students and intellectuals were predominant there were also peasant protests. The authorities started to arrest individual dissidents early in 1979 and closed down the Democracy Wall in December that year, but underground publishing continued.

Goodman, David S.G., Beijing Street Voices: The Poetry and Politics of China’s Democracy Movement, London and Boston, Marion Boyars, 1981, pp. 208

Index on Censorship, Index on Censorship, Vol. 9, No 1, Feburary, London, Index on Censorship, 1980

This issue is largely dedicated to dissent in China.

Schell, Orville, Discos and Democracy: China in the Throes of Reform, New York, Pantheon Books, 1988, pp. 384

Includes material on 1976-79 and 1986-87.

Seymour, James D., The Fifth Modernization: China’s Human Rights Movement, 1978-1979, Stanfordville NY, Human Rights Publishing Group, 1980, pp. 381

Wei, Jingsheng, The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other Writings, New York and London, Penguin, 1998, pp. 283

Wei, a prominent advocate of ‘the fifth modernization’ – democracy, was arrested and jailed in 1979.