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Special Feature: 1989, a Watershed in Chinese History?

The Chinese Communist Party and June 4th

Or how to get out of it and get away with it
Michel Bonnin
p. 52-61


The spring 1989 democracy movement and the massacre of June 4th were a serious challenge to the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party. Twenty years on the Party appears to have successfully overcome it, but at the price of a return to the political fundamentals of a Leninist party-state and the use of nationalism as a replacement source of legitimacy. Despite all its efforts to conceal and deform the true history of the 1989 “disturbances” (as demonstrated in school and university text books), the party has not succeeded in ridding itself of this stain on its history. Questions about recognition of responsibility and a possible “reconciliation” continue to haunt it.

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Electronic reference

Michel Bonnin, « The Chinese Communist Party and June 4th », China Perspectives [Online], 2009/2 | 2009, Online since 01 June 2011, connection on 27 May 2017. URL :

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About the author

Michel Bonnin

Professor at the China Centre, EHESS, Paris.

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