Harvard Founds China Archive
Collection Announced at IOP Forum on Beijing Crackdown
Harvard's Yenching Library plans to create a permanent collection marking the Chinese pro-democracy movement, Professor of Government Roderick MacFarquhar said last night at a panel on last June's Beijing crackdown.
The collection, made possible through a $50,000 alumni grant, marks the beginning of a special post-Revolutionary China archive at the library, said Eugene Wu, Yenching librarian. The collection will include photographs, literature, documents, video and audio tapes, eyewitness reports and student correspondences, Wu said.
Charles L. Smith Jr. '50 and Lois Smith donated the gift that established the collection, Wu added. "We feel we have a duty to collect and preserve these kind of primary materials as a witness to history for posterity," he said.
"This archive would stand as a memorial to the movement and in particular to those who lost their lives for the cause."
Columbia, the University of Chicago and Yale are planning similar collections, MacFarquar said. Wu expects to meet with those involved by the end of the year.
MacFarquhar gave the announcement before a packed auditorium at the Kennedy School of Government last night, where scholars and journalists gave eyewitness accounts of the Beijing crack down.
"These are people your age, involved in the same day-to-day pursuits you are," said Al Pessin, a Voice of America reporter who covered the Chinese protesters last June. "They went out on the square and starved themselves."
"This was the Chinese `Me Generation' that was almost overnight transformed," Pessin said.
The Institute of Politics forum, entitled "Eyewitness to a Massacre: Tales from Tianamen Square," included one student and two reporters who were in Beijing the nightthat Chinese army units dispersed students who hadmassed in the Chinese capital for weeks, killinghundreds of them.
Two Asia experts, including MacFarquhar, widelyregarded as a leading China scholar in the U.S.,added political context.
CBS correspondent Richard Roth, who was inTianamen Square as People's Army troops moved in,recalled how soldiers pulled him aside, knockedhim to the ground, punched him and detained himfor several hours.
Later that day, he continued, he saw thousandsof troops, numerous tanks, armored personnelcarriers and artillery pieces in the square butall evidence of killing had been removed.
"What surprised the students was the ferocityof the government's response, not the crackdownitself," said Huang Yashang, a doctoral candidateat Harvard's Government Department who alsowitnessed the uprising.
Until then, Yashang said, students had hoped togain the government's sympathy, although they werealso prepared for arrest.
Following the shooting, he said, many Beijingresidents still did not believe that thegovernment could have used the "People's Army"against the people.
Fox Butterfield '61, New York Times reporterand East Asian expert, said that student unreststemmed from high inflation and politicalcorruption that accompanied the economic reformsof Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
America overlooked these problems in itsenthusiasm for China's economic modernization,Butterfield said