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Special Feature: 1989, a Watershed in Chinese History?

June 4th: Memory and Ethics

Perry Link
p. 4-16


In this essay I look first at some general problems of memory and of how events are retold from memory. Then I focus on memory of June Fourth and divide the question by asking how three categories of people—perpetrators, victims, and bystanders—have remembered, failed to remember, or tried to alter memory. The tripartite division of “perpetrators, victims, and bystanders” is not perfect but I find it illuminating. Nearly all the questions that come up have moral implications, so I call the essay “memory and ethics”. I draw upon examples from literature, memoir, journalism, film, and personal acquaintance.

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Bibliographical reference

Perry Link, « June 4th: Memory and Ethics », China Perspectives, 2009/2 | 2009, 4-16.

Electronic reference

Perry Link, « June 4th: Memory and Ethics », China Perspectives [Online], 2009/2 | 2009, Online since 01 June 2011, connection on 19 June 2018. URL :

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About the author

Perry Link

Emeritus Professor of east Asian Studies at Princeton University.

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