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Tiananmen @ 35: What Have We Learned? A Conversation with Journalists

April 23 @ 4:30 pm 5:45 pm

Dorinda ElliottNewsweek, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Seth Faison, South China Morning Press, Brunswick Group China Hub

Orville Schell, New York Review of Books, Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations

Katherine Wilhelm, Associated Press, NYU U.S. Asia Law Center

Moderator: Annie Jieping Zhang, founder, Matters Lab, co-founder, Initium Media, Nieman-Berkman Klein Fellow 2024

What happened in the spring of 1989 in Beijing, and does it matter today? A panel of journalists who covered China’s democracy movement—and have watched China’s economic and political development since—will examine the reasons for the student movement and the bloody crackdown and the ensuing turning points that led to Xi Jinping’s China today.

Dorinda (Dinda) Elliott is executive director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Harvard China Fund. She previously served as SVP at the China Institute in New York and as editorial and communications director at the Paulson Institute. Before that, Elliott worked at Newsweek, Time, Asiaweek, and Conde Nast Traveler. Elliott spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, based in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Moscow, and then served as editor in chief of Asiaweek magazine, based in Hong Kong. Elliott covered China’s opening up in the late 1980s and the student movement in 1989; the rise of the mafia and political and economic transition in Post-Soviet Russia; the fall of Suharto in Indonesia; the reformasi movement in Malaysia; Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997; and China’s rise as an economic power.   

Seth Faison is a partner at Brunswick Group, specializing in China. He went to China in 1984 and spent two years learning Chinese. He became a reporter in Hong Kong and opened the Beijing Bureau of the South China Morning Post in 1988. He covered the 1989 student movement and crackdown in Tiananmen Square. He later joined the New York Times, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 as part of a team covering breaking news. He became Shanghai Bureau Chief and wrote extensively about changes in China’s politics, economy, arts and society. He is the author of “South of the Clouds: Exploring the Hidden Realms of China.” Since 2006, he has served as a communications specialist and advisor, including eight years as Head of Communications for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Schell is the author of fifteen books, ten of them about China, and a contributor to numerous edited volumes. His most recent books are: Wealth and Power, China’s Long March to the 21st CenturyVirtual TibetThe China Reader: The Reform Years; and Mandate of Heaven: The Legacy of Tiananmen Square and the Next Generation of China’s Leaders. Schell has written for many leading publications; he covered China’s student movement in 1989 for The New York Review of Books.

Katherine Wilhelm is executive director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute, an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law, and editor of the institute’s online essay series, USALI Perspectives. She is an expert on China’s legal system, public interest law organizations, and civil society. Over the course of nearly three decades in China as a lawyer and journalist, she worked for the Ford Foundation, Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, a leading U.S. law firm, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and The Associated Press. She earned a JD and master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a master’s degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University.

Annie Jieping Zhang is founder and CEO of Matters Lab, a decentralized Web3 social media platform. She also co-founded and was the editor-in-chief of Initium Media, an online Chinese-language publication established in Hong Kong in 2015. She previously worked as an editor at City Magazine; chief writer and executive editor-in-chief for iSun Affairs, an iPad-based magazine offering political and social news; and as a reporter for Asia Week. The Society of Publishers in Asia named Zhang Journalist of the Year in 2010. 


April 23
4:30 pm – 5:45 pm
Event Category:


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies


CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium (S010)

1730 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States

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