The Origins of Chinese Dissidents in American Foreign Policy

Kathryn Botto

Global Politics Review
Vol. 2, No. 2 (October 2016): 28-39.
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1238527
GPR ID: 2464-9929_v02_i02_p028
Published: 30 October 2016

Abstract: Although figures such as Liu Xiaobo and Chen Guangcheng are frequently invoked as human rights champions by American politicians today, this was not always the case. The use of human rights advocates abroad as political tools was reserved for Soviet dissidents prior to 1989, and thus Chinese dissidents were largely ignored. This remained the status quo until the Tiananmen Square protests, after which prominent dissident Fang Lizhi became the first Chinese dissident to receive as high profile attention from the American public and executive branch as Soviet dissidents had previously. Through analysis of Fang’s memoir, diplomatic cables, and first person accounts, this paper argues that the Fang Lizhi incident at President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 banquet in Beijing was the event that eventually led Bush to reluctantly support Chinese human rights champions, which made Fang the first in a long line of Chinese dissidents to be entangled in the US-China relationship.

Keywords:  diplomatic history, China, U.S.A., Fang Lizhi, George H.W. Bush.

Copyright by the Author.  This is an Open Access article licensed by Global Politics Review under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License  Creative Commons License// Disclaimer: the copyright and license of this article changed on October 30, 2017, when GPR became Open Access. The PDF file has not been updated for archival purposes. //

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