Rethinking the Presence of American Scholars in China

Gail Henderson, PhD
JAMA. 1990;263(7):992-993. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440070080037.
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THE MASSACRE of Chinese students and citizens in Beijing last June shocked the world. Response was intensified by the almost instantaneous news coverage, which persisted until the Chinese government took control of the media. For Americans involved with research in China, the student uprising and the events in Tiananmen Square created tremendous pressure to articulate a position on China. As moral outrage turned to consideration of the long-term consequences of the events, a complex exchange among scholars, funding agencies, and government officials ensued.1 Many US organizations and individuals suspended research plans as the implications of continued involvement in China—moral, political, and interpersonal—were debated.

To some, June 4, 1989, marked a turning point in assessment of the Chinese regime. Cooperation and exchange that previously were acceptable now symbolized collaboration with a corrupt government. For me, the events that occurred in Tiananmen Square forced a reevaluation—not of current positions, but of


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