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May 9, 2019 @ 12:30 pm - 7:00 pm

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The Overseas Press Club hosts conference at:

Club Quarters, 40 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036

Starting at 12:30 p.m.


Thirty years ago, as of June 4, the Chinese leadership made a crucial decision—it sent in the tanks to crush students demonstrating for greater democratic rights, killing thousands. Come listen to the stories of those students who survived and how they have fought a 30-year shadow war against the Chinese government even though they sought refuge in Western democracies and Taiwan. We also will be joined by American correspondents who covered the event and have watched as the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has gradually closed off the Chinese people’s access to the Western news media, fearing that it might infect the people with foreign ideals and set the stage for future political stirrings.

It appears that President Xi is determined to prevent his people from ever again demanding greater political rights, as they did that spring of 1989, by instituting a sweeping crackdown on dissidents, lawyers and religious leaders and imposing greater censorship of Chinese-state owned media as well as the Internet and social media. Experts will discuss how his government has detained roughly 1 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the western province of Xinjiang and used sophisticated facial recognition technology backed by Artificial Intelligence and Big Data tools to control them. Different provinces and cities are experimenting with social credit rating systems that will prevent wrong-thinking Chinese from getting jobs or getting on airplanes or high-speed trains. Is Xi using advanced technology to build the most sophisticated totalitarian state in history?


This event is co-sponsored by The U.S. Asian Law Institute at New York University; The Center for U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society/ChinaFile; and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University



Panel 1: Covering the Event

Lunch, 12:30 p.m. Dining Room, 1st Floor

Western journalists tell their stories of covering the massacre. They also talk about how the Western media may have played a role in encouraging young protesters; and how now, Xi is determined to prevent Western news from reaching his population. The Chinese leadership came to understand the power of ideas at Tiananmen and want to prevent any such stirrings from ever occurring again.

PANELISTS: Carroll Bogert, former Newsweek in Beijing; Adi Ignatius (invited), Dori Jones Yang, Business Week.

MODERATOR: Susan Jakes, ChinaFile, former Beijing correspondent for Time.


Panel 2: Survivors Tell Their Stories

1:30-2:50 p.m. Priestly Room, 2nd Floor

PANELISTS: Wu’er Kaixi, Fang Zheng and Rose Tang.

Survivors tell their stories of what happened on June 4, 1989 and how they and their families back home have been pursued by the Chinese government for 30 years.

MODERATOR: William J. Holstein, event chair, former OPC president, and editor of the OPC book, “Has the American Media Misjudged China?”


Special Presentation: The Mothers of Tiananmen Victims Demand Justice

2:50 p.m. to 3 p.m., Priestly Room

Mothers of victims of the massacre continue to agitate for justice and compensation even in the face of continued harassment by authorities.

Sharon Hom, Human Rights in China


Panel 3: President Xi’s Effort to Remake Chinese Society

3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Priestly Room, 2nd Floor

President Xi Jinping has engaged in a major political crackdown and has re-inserted Communist Party authority into all spheres of Chinese society. He has virtually eliminated human rights lawyers, tightened censorship of all forms of Chinese media, prohibited dissemination of Western media, intensified the ideological training of students, and imprisoned Muslim populations in Xinjiang.

PANELISTS: Jerome Cohen, Wu’er Kaixi, Andy Nathan, Teng Biao

MODERATOR: Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer- and OPC-prize winner for China coverage for The New York Times.


Panel 4: Technology As a Tool of Control

4:15 to 5:30 p.m., Priestly Room.

It was once thought that the Internet and other new types of technology would give more power to an emerging middle class. But Xi’s use of advanced technology may mean he is building the most sophisticated totalitarian state in human history. He has cracked down on the Internet and social media, and employed networks of cameras and facial recognition technology to identify and track people. Other elements of his high-tech authoritarianism include AI/Big Data, a DNA database, and a social credit rating system. In some cases, American companies are helping.

PANELISTS: Human Rights Watch China expert Sophie Richardson, and Christina Larson, Associated Press science writer in Washington and former technology writer in China and author of a definitive article in the MIT Technology Review.

MODERATOR: Rebecca Blumenstein, The New York Times deputy managing editor, former Beijing correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and a Pulitzer Prize winner


Drinks and Networking, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Dining Room, 1st Floor.


May 9, 2019
12:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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