“I loved the 1980s,” she adds. “There was so much idealism. “Then, people were pushing the envelope, testing the waters.
And she spells out what it means for her to survive in the Beijing at the beginning of the 21th century, so different from 1989 as she helped to organize public protests in Nanjing: no profiling herself as a dissident, not writing in Chinese and not setting up organizations. Today, she tells The Star, the situation is different from 1989:
“In 1989, there was widespread discontent,” she explains, but that’s not the case today.
The truth, says Zhang, is that Chinese authorities learned valuable lessons from Tiananmen. On the one hand, they relaxed social controls, allowing Chinese people far more personal freedoms; on the other hand, they cracked down hard on anyone who dared to dissent politically.