Ng Han Guan / AP

Today’s Issue

  • “Whenever people are able to cross the kinds of silos that the Chinese Communist Party prefers to keep them in, the party is very concerned and often reacts with overwhelming force,” says Elizabeth Perry, a professor of government at Harvard.
  • Twenty years ago, Perry was quoted in an Atlantic story on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Today The Masthead asks her to update that story.
  • Perry’s insights offer a guide to when activist movements can succeed in China and when they prompt a crackdown. You can listen to the full interview on SoundCloud, or you can get it directly in your podcast player.

By Matt Peterson

This summer will mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which thousands of Chinese protesters were slaughtered by the state. In the intervening years, 1989 has come to mark an extreme for crushing dissent, not the norm. Another extreme is defined by China’s mass suppression of its mostly Muslim Uighur population in the west. Between those acts of violence lies a deliberately ill-defined space where opposition is possible.

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