Ezra Vogel on Tiananmen and Deng Xiaoping

The New York Times today ran a profile of retired Harvard professor Ezra Vogel, whose recent biography of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has been published to wide critical acclaim.

Though little known outside of China, Deng's career spanned some of the most tumultuous years in modern Chinese history, ranging from the foundation of the Communist Party to the country's eventual consolidation of market-oriented economic reforms. How did Deng emerge as a figure of such consequence in China's history?

In his conversation with Center on U.S.-China Relations Director Orville Schell on October 4 at Asia Society in New York, Vogel discusses how Deng's tremendous personal charisma transcended his diminuitive stature (1 min., 26 sec).

No discussion of Deng's life is complete without an assessment of his role in the Tiananmen Square incident. As China's supreme leader, Deng holds ultimate responsibility for the 1989 crackdown that claimed the lives of many peaceful protestors, an event that has greatly tarnished his legacy. In this excerpt, Vogel and Schell discuss the context in which the crackdown occurred (4 min., 30 sec.):

Watch Ezra Vogel's complete Asia Society discussion

About the Author

Profile picture for user Matt Schiavenza

Matt Schiavenza is the Senior Content Manager at Asia Society. Previously, he worked as an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he helped launch and then oversee the China Channel.