Lies in Ink, Truth in Blood: The Role and Impact of the Chinese Media During the Beijing Spring of ‘89

By Linda Jakobson

A paper by Linda Jakobson, spring 1990 fellow, focuses on Chinese press coverage of the student-led Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. For this paper, Jakobson interviewed dozens of Chinese journalists, scholars and other observers, read and watched Chinese press coverage, and placed it within a Chinese social and political context. Her paper provides insight into the Chinese press, which, for a brief moment in time, functioned “freely,” reporting the news, criticizing the leadership, writing editorials that were not echoes of Communist dogma and even joining in the pro-democracy demonstrations with placards that extolled: “Freedom of the Press.” How was it possible, Jakobson asks, “that the press rid itself of its chains?” The moment was short-lived however, when on June 3-4, 1989, the tanks rolled through Tiananmen Square, and the curtain again fell on the Chinese press.

Download the paper (PDF).