Profile of Fang Lizhi

A new face of Chinese dissidence emerged in the mid 1980s in Beijing, an Astrophysics professor named Fang Lizhi. With his physics background, the Western press dubbed Fang, “China’s Sakharov.”

At a speech at Beijing University in November 1985, Fang urged the students in the audience to:

“…be open to different ways of thinking…and willing to adopt the elements of those cultures that are clearly superior. A great diversity of thought should be allowed in colleges and universities. For if all thought is narrow and simplistic, creativity will die. At present there are certainly some people in power who still insist on dictating to others according to their own narrow principles…We must not be afraid to speak openly about these things. In fact, it is our duty.” (Wealth and Power, page 300)

Fang became the voice of a growing student movement that would culminate in the events of June 4, 1989. When Fang passed away suddenly in Arizona in 2012 at age 76, translator and scholar Perry Link penned this tribute in the New York Review of Books, detailing Fang’s importance and legacy.