The Film

Editor's Introduction

The China Symposium '89 was organized by Orville Schell, Liu Baifang, and Hong Huang with the support of The New York Review of Books. It was envisaged as providing a forum for a number of leading Chinese intellectuals and cultural figures, both from Mainland China and Taiwan, to discuss the state of the state and their view of China's future with academics and journalists from the United States (plus one rogue academic/ writer from Australia, the editor of the present work).

As things turned out the Symposium took place during one of the high points of the student protests of 1989. Although the Chinese authorities had prevented a number of invitees from leaving China, and another crucial figure, Liu Xiaobo, decided to return to Beijing to take part on the demonstrations as the Symposium started, nonetheless in late April 1989, on the beautiful coastline of Bolinas in California, a rare gathering of outspoken Chinese men and women allowed for an airing of major national cultural and political issues in a casual and open forum. The following material is the selected and edited version of those wide-ranging discussions.

The lengthy recorded tapes of the discussions at the symposium were transcribed under the aegis of Orville Schell and Liu Baifang from tapes of the proceedings of the Bolinas symposium and reviewed by academics based in the United States and Australia who each chose a session to work on. Each section was taken as a "chapter" and the academic writer then added a short introductory essay to act as a guide to the discussions. Orville and Baifang offered many sage suggestions regarding the shaping of the material into the present work, and it was due to their industry and enthusiasm that the Bolinas Symposium was organized and its proceedings can now be made available.

As the final editor of the material I revised all of the material, and added footnotes where I deemed it necessary. The academics and journalists who contributed essays to this volume were unstinting in their support and help. Linda Jaivin gave generously of her time and energy in reading through drafts of the edited transcripts of the symposium sessions and offered numerous editorial suggestions. The text would be a far more clumsy and inelegant work without her careful eye and demanding (red) pen. The editorial process was completed during 1991.

This cyberpublication is the first time any of this material has been made available to the public. It has, I believe, more than a mere curiosity value and can act as a useful introduction to some of the issues raised during the Protest Movement of 1989.

The Bolinas Symposium itself also brought a number of people together who later collaborated closely on the production of the film THE GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE. For my own part, my work with Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon on the film can be traced back to the meeting of minds that occurred in those bizarre and heady days in California. For this I am grateful to the generosity of Orville Schell, Liu Baifang and our dazzling friend Hong Huang.

Geremie R. Barmé
Long Bow, Boston
May 1996

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