Tag Archives: China

How a Non-Western Non-Christian Can Help American Christians Think About Western Civilization

25 Jul

Historian Chris Gehrz reflects on Western Civilization as seen by the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo: How a Non-Western Non-Christian Can Help American Christians Think About Western Civilization

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Tiananmen 25 years later

5 Jun

Twenty-five years ago this summer, I was job-hunting, with a year-old Ph.D. in hand.

As I was waiting to hear from Northwestern College, I can still remember watching TV reports with growing concern over what was then going on in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Since then, not only I have I been a part of the Northwestern College community for twenty-five years, my wife and I have been to Tiananmen, and I have taught an undergraduate course on Chinese Civilization several times (without claiming any formal training or expertise on the subject, I hasten to add).

The protest, and the crackdown, are a major turning point in China’s post-Mao history. A fine Christian Science Monitor story by Robert Marquand on the June 4 crackdown is here: Tiananmen 25 years later: ‘People loved the students because the students loved China’ +video – CSMonitor.com.

To give you a taste of Marquand’s take on the event, here’s a central point in his piece:

Some 25 years later it is hard to recapture the feeling of the Tiananmen moment – that history was on a knife’s edge. At the time there were mostly one-story buildings in Beijing, few cars, and utter state control. Today, in an dynamic era in which China has gained wealth and power, in which its Pearl River Delta region around Guangdong is the so- called “workshop of the world,” and as the urban centers on China’s east coast are choc-a-bloc with millionaires China also has 150 billionaires, many of the next generation wonder what all the fuss is about.

But the spring of 1989 was certainly the period during which China decided to conduct economic reform and leave political reform for another day. It diverged from the path being forged by Mr. Gorbachev with the Soviet Union. Gorbachev championed perestroika restructuring and glasnost political openness and free speech. But China chose only perestroika, and not glasnost.

 

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