This essay, written in memory of the Chinese astrophysicist and dissident Fang Lizhi, reexamines the period in Fang's life when he was vice president of the University of Science and Technology of China and, because of his activities as an educational and political reformer, came to be dubbed “China's Andrei Sakharov.” It also retells, from the perspective of an insider, the dramatic narrative of Fang's year with his wife, Li Shuxian, living in the US embassy in Beijing following the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and subsequent massacre. But the special focus of this overview of Fang's career is on his development as a thinker on questions of politics and human rights. Though Fang never returned to China and, while living in the United States, kept his distance from dissident movements, he continued to develop intellectually in ways that made him, in later life, China's Václav Havel.

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