China, Geremie R. Barmé notes, has become one of the greatest writing and publishing nations on the planet, and both cultural activists and the state are embroiled in debates about the production and distribution of its cultural products. But what happens when global culture and Chinese capitalist-socialism meet in the marketplace? In the Redinvestigates what goes on behind the rhetoric of the official Chinese government and the dissident community and provides a unique perspective on mainstream Western perceptions of cultural developments, artistic freedom, and popular lifestyles in China today.
Illustrated with fascinating cartoons and photographs and rich with facts, anecdotes, and events, In the Red exposes the complex relationship between “official” culture (produced, supported, or sanctioned by the government) and “nonofficial” or countercultures (especially among urban youths and dissidents). Two key and contrasting events loom large in this narrative: the 1989 protests that ended with the June 4 massacre and a nationwide purge, and Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 “tour of the south,” in which he emphasized the need for radical economic reform. Although a level of political tolerance has evolved since the 1970s, Barmé sheds light on the significance of the intermittent denunciations of artists, ideas, and works.