Remembering Tiananmen and 1989 in Europe [1]

June 4, 1989 may lay buried under new epochs already, but the meaning of that date for China and its observers is clearly going to continue reverberate for decades. The Germans, perhaps most of all.  China was, and remains, highly sensitive to commemorations of June 4, 1989, but for Germans, the inspiration of the Chinese student movement of the 1980s, and the violent end to … Continue reading Remembering Tiananmen and 1989 in Europe [1]


Victory is doing good things you never thought you could do. Sunbeams strike the carrefour here in this foreign land, and, amid stone chambers, shapely vowels, the ungeheurerlich complexities of Gaul, arcs of joy cut inexplicably into my sternum. How can this be?  Is it not unseemly to declench oneself? Striding toward towers crowned by mute and lovely angels, I heave up great irrevocable laughs … Continue reading Victory

China’s Xinjiang Crisis [1]

Since the Xinjiang crisis erupted into violence on July 5*, I had a chance to view this problem from a few unique perspectives: 1. When the violence broke out, I was in China smack in the heart of another stronghold of nationalities, that is, the Korean Autonomous regions and counties on the border with North Korea, checking out the appeals for ethnic harmony.   The Koreans … Continue reading China’s Xinjiang Crisis [1]

Qianmen: The Foreigner’s Lament [I]

(Note: Chinese characters may not display properly due to Turkish-style computer in Berlin via which this entry is being uploaded.) Preface: The connection of Tiananmen Square with political theater has been well documented by all number of scholars and observers, most often with reference to the 1989 student movement which culminated in the chaos of June 4. In my own visits to that space in … Continue reading Qianmen: The Foreigner’s Lament [I]

Hu Jintao 1984 = Hu Jintao 2009

For reasons which will be made clear to me only gradually, yesterday I managed to pull a 9-5 shift at the Bundesarchiv in Berlin.  I say “will gradually become clear” because most good archival visits are like making wine: one stamps through fields of grapes, leaving with pungeant feet and drunk on fumes, yet it takes months or years for the product to age properly … Continue reading Hu Jintao 1984 = Hu Jintao 2009