First Advisor

Mel Gurtov

Term of Graduation

Winter 1991

Date of Publication


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science


Political Science




Dissenters -- China, China -- Intellectual life -- 1976-, China -- Politics and government -- 1976-, Lizhi Fang -- Political and social views, Binyan Liu (1925-2005) -- Political and social views



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vi, 114 pages)


The concept of dissident under consideration in this study reveals that political and loyal dissent, non-conformity and well-meaning criticisms of government's wrong doings, and even the quest for democracy exist in China as they do in the West. Political struggle and the leadership's eagerness to gain the support of intellectuals provided Chinese intellectuals with the opportunity to express themselves. Similarly, power struggles within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have also become the spawning ground for some Chinese intellectuals to become dissidents.

Through analysis of the three case subjects, Fang Lizhi (a brilliant astrophysicist who in effect challenged the Party's exclusive right to rule by calling for human rights and democracy), Liu Binyan (a muckraking journalist and professed Marxist who exposed the dark, bureaucratic side of Communist rule), and Yan Jiaqi (China's foremost political scientist who argued that reforms in the political, economic, legal and cultural realm are interconnected and interdependent, and that Western ideas and institutions are applicable to and needed in China), the study is meant to answer the following questions: What is the nature and character of their political criticism? What alternatives do they offer? What limitations have existed on their dissidence? What are the similarities and differences in their criticisms and personalities? What has been the Communist Party's response to each of them? What accounts for the way the party treats them?

Through analyses of the Party's reaction to and treatment of intellectual dissidents, a special cyclical character has been summarized into three-Rs: relaxation, retrenchment, and repression (fang, shou, ya), which has been proved true from Mao's era to today. A complete change in China will depend very much upon a combination of pressure from below and initiatives or concessions from above.


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