Student unrest followed Fang Lizhi around the country, but after ousting his chosen successor Hu Yaobang for being slow to respond, Deng clamped down.
But tensions lingered under the surface. The controversial documentary River Elegy, aired on Chinese TV in 1988, encapsulated some of the difficult questions China continued to face. What role would traditional culture have on China’s reform? What difficulties lay ahead for a modernizing China? After two airings, the central government decided the documentary’s critiques were too thinly veiled and pulled it from the airwaves.