Die chinesische Demokratiebewegung 1978 bis 1981= « Beijing Spring »: Memories of the Chinese Democracy Movement 1978-1981

Website of the research project Die chinesische Demokratiebewegung 1978 bis 1981 – Erinnerungen der damaligen Akteure = « Beijing Spring »: Memories of the Chinese Democracy Movement 1978-1981, directed by Helmut Opletal with the support of the Institute of East Asian Studies / Department of Sinology of the University of Vienna, and the Hochschuljubiläumsstiftung (research foundation) of the City of Vienna.

March for political and artistic freedoms, Beijing, Oct. 1, 1979 "Democracy Wall" (Beijing, May 1979) © Helmut Opletal

March for political and artistic freedoms, Beijing, Oct. 1, 1979 « Democracy Wall » (Beijing, May 1979) © Helmut Opletal

This website is still under construction, more elements and translations into English will be added in the coming months. But you might be interested in the following pages: photos of the Democracy Movement, some documents relating to the Democracy Movement, sources and literature.

« Beijing Spring » was a citizens’ movement at the beginning of the « reform and opening » era at the end of the 1970s. On « big-character posters » and in independent journals in a number of Chinese cities it advocated liberties and democratic reforms. Independent artists and writers joined the movement. Some reformers inside the Communist Party sympathized with the rights activists, seeing them as allies against the still powerful « conservatives » in the Party leadership. But as the Democracy Movement also challenged basic principles of communist rule as such, all pro-democracy activities were banned in early 1981. Dozens of activists eventually received harsh prison terms, many went into exile later. The ideas of the « Beijing Spring » saw a brief revival in the 1989 students’ movement on Tiananmen Square. Even today demands by social groups for freedom of expression and media still remain on the agenda.

See the website

Note that Jacqueline Nivard (CECMC) has collaborated to the project


Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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