For decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sought to prevent Chinese artists from freely engaging with the world, especially on the topic of China’s history. The CCP’s story of Chinese history describes Communism’s triumph as natural and inevitable and whitewashes the Party’s misdeeds. Thus, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, equates control of historical narratives with the survival of the Party.

In recent years, however, party control over those attempting to bring alternative narratives to light has been shaken by a network of independent writers, artists, and filmmakers. Using technology to bypass China’s legendary censorship mechanisms, these underground historians share powerful accounts of historical and modern disasters that challenge Xi Jinping’s rule.

Using years of firsthand research in China, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ian Johnson challenges the stereotypes of China as a state where all free thought has successfully been silenced. Please join the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub for a discussion on Ian Johnson’s new book Sparks: China’s Underground Historians and their Battle for the Future.

The discussion will take place in person at the Atlantic Council studios and virtually over Zoom, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. To RSVP for the event, please register via the registration box on this page.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email on how to join the event.

A conversation with

Ian Johnson
Stephen A. Schwarzman Senior Fellow for China Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Eric Schluessel
Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, Department of History
The George Washington University

Katie Stallard
Senior Editor, China and Global Affairs
The New Statesman

Moderated by

Bay Fang
Radio Free Asia

Opening remarks

Global China Hub

The Global China Hub researches and devises allied solutions to the global challenges posed by China’s rise, leveraging and amplifying the Atlantic Council’s work on China across its 15 other programs and centers.

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