Short Biographies from English and Chinese Wikipedia:


Shen Tong (Simplified Chinese: 沈彤; Hanyu Pinyin: Shěn Tóng) is a Chinesedissident who was one of the student leaders in the democracy movement at Tiananmen Square in 1989[1] One of the People of the Year by Newsweek 1989, Shen Tong became a media and software entrepreneur in late 1990s.


Personal Background

Shen Tong was born in 1968, in Beijing. He studied at Peking University from 1986 to 1989, and became one of the student leaders during the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square. He lives in New York City, and has a daughter and a son. His father and sister Shen Qing both went to Peking University, and his mother is a medical doctor.

Media Ventures

Shen Tong moved from Massachusetts to New York in year 2000 focusing more exclusively on his media ventures and writing. He is currently the founder and president of the company VFinity[2], which makes software tools and web applications for multimedia and multilingual search, media production, archiving, and media distribution. He is credited with the phrase “Context Is King” partially due to his keynote speech at a super session of National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas, 2007 [3]. He serves on the board of Poets & Writers. [4]

Cultural Activities

Shen Tong studied biology at Brandeis University on a Wien Scholarship and later in doctorate programs in political philosophy at Harvard University and sociology at Boston University with Harvey Mansfield, Peter Berger, Daniel Bell, Samuel P. Huntington. He co-authored the book Almost a Revolution, published in 1990, a memoir of his life growing up in China and his experiences at the Tiananmen Square democracy movement. He carried on a diverse writing career with political commentary, semi-scholarly essays, film critics, literary prose, and movie scripts in English and in Chinese, including publications in China under the pseudonym Rong Di. He holds honorary Ph.D. in 1991 from St. Ambrose University.[5]

Shen Tong also founded higher education and culture focused NGO in the mid-1990s, his media businesses in TV production B&B Media Production, investing in bookstore and publishing in Beijing, a center in Budapest for liberal scholars, journalists, writers, and educators studying transitional society with funding from Open Society Institute and Central European University of George Soros, a literature review magazine with Chinese dissident poets and writers with support from Allen Ginsberg, Susan Sontag, and Elie Wiesel.

Political Activism

He co-chaired the committee on dialog with the government. He was on Changan Avenue when Chinese troops opened fire on the students. He had earlier obtained a Chinese passport to study biology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in the United States, so even though he was wanted by the Chinese government he was able to board a plane six days after the massacre on June 4, 1989. He was able to walk undisguised through police and security officials in the Beijing airport, possibly indicating broader support for the student democracy movement than the Chinese government contended at the time.

Shortly after his arrival in the United States, Shen Tong held a press conference at the Walker Center for Ecumenical Exchange in Newton, Massachusetts, giving the first detailed eye-witness account by a student leader of the Tiananmen Square massacre and of the events that led up to it.

During his studies in Massachusetts he founded the Democracy for China Fund to support democratic movements in China and to promote ideas of political freedom and human rights. American NGO activist Marshall Strauss helped Shen Tong in founding and operation of the Fund. Coretta Scott King[6], John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Kerry Kennedy, among other Western political and NGO figures and sinologists were associated with Shen Tong’s organization in 1990s. The Congressional Human Rights Delegation to China in 1991 headed by Nancy Pelosi was organized by the Democracy for China Fund with the help and funding from Hong Kong Democrats. His 1992 trip back to China led to the arrest of him and his associates. He was released and immediately exiled after only two months of imprisonment under mounting international pressure especially from the US Congress, the Presidential Campaign of Bill Clinton, the Vatican, and European governments [7]. In May 1993, days before the renewal of China’s Most Favorite Nation trading status by the US government, Shen Tong was scheduled to give a speech at the United Nations press club[8], but was barred by UN General Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali due to strong protest from the Chinese government [9]



沈彤 (中國)


出生 1968年07月30日 (42歲)
母校 北京大學

沈彤1989年六四事件的學生領袖之一[1] ,1989年美國新聞周刊(Newsweek)風雲人物之一。20世紀90年代後期成為軟體和媒體企業家,並擔任美國詩人與作家協會理事(Poets & Writers)[2]










沈彤也在90年代中期建立高等教育和文化交流的非營利機構。他的媒體企業在電視製作業有雙碧媒體製作公司,並在北京投資書店和出版機構國林風圖書中心;他和索洛斯George Soros的Open Society Institute及Central European University在布達佩斯共同創立一個以自由派學者、新聞工作者、作家、和教育人士為主的研究中心研究探討轉型社會;並曾資助傾向,與Allen Ginsberg,Susan Sontag,and Elie Wiesel 等作家及中國流亡詩人創辦文學雜誌。


我還沒有找到自己的上帝,對於其他類的終極關懷也是只有思 考、有反省、有敬畏,而沒有定見。在今天的華語、華人世界裡,作公共知識分子、還是學院知識分子,投身社會活動、還是政治活動,都不是兒戲,都要有起碼的自知之明和嚴肅的承擔。能力之外,還要有操守。作學院知識分子是否能耐得住寂寞?作公共知識分子是否有批判大眾的勇氣?作社會活動家是否有義無反顧的獻身精神?作政治家是否能身體力行地在道德倫理和責任倫理之間的荊棘中辟出一條道路?

行了萬里路,讀了千卷書,白忙了半輩子,流亡了五年、十年、二 十年,仍然不知道自己到底要做什麼;能做什麼。世間有很多大事可成就,也有些正義的事情需要有人承擔。而往往二者不可得兼。


好在文人可以無狀。我借Blog,在三十歲、四 十岁的時候寫下這些,是想不拘一格地反省、梳理自己的過去,也順便同可能的未來商量個出路 。


7 Responses to About

  1. Marisa says:

    Hi Shen Tong,

    Thanks so much for responding to my tweet. As I mentioned, I am working on senior project at Mount Holyoke College that focuses on Chinese intellectuals’ personal identity with the state through the relationship between thought and experience. In a specific case study that focuses on China’s literary iconoclast, Liu Xiaobo, I hope to gain a better understanding of the role in which patriotism and personal responsibility influence intellectuals’ decision to stand up to the Party despite their awareness of the consequences on a personal level. I’ve read your memoir and would love to pick your brain about this. Would you be at all available during February to talk? or would e-mail be better?

    Thanks again,

    P.S Twitter wouldn’t allow me to direct message you!

    • notinthespotlight says:

      Hi, Please send your questions, and I’ll do my best. It’s a particularly busy time for me. Best of luck to your very worthwhile project! ST

  2. Marisa says:

    Great! Do you prefer e-mail? or should I directly post the questions here? Thanks!! ML

  3. Hi, I hope you would have time to compare Tiananmen Square to Tahrir Square. I tried here:

    but your personal insight would greatly improve such a study. Thanks!

    Jeff Jacobsen

  4. Melissa Lin says:

    Hello, Mr. Shen, I am Melissa Lin, a sophomore in Acaciawood Collage Preparatory. My partner and I are participating in a national contest called National History Day. The theme for this year is Right and Responsibility, therefore we chose our topic to be the The Tienanmen Incident of 1989. We understand that you are an expert on this history, we sincerely wish that you can help us to learn more and deeper about this event. It would be great if we can have your e-mail address to contact you.

  5. Melissa Lin says:

    By the way, We understand you are an expert on this history and we have read your book.

  6. Beryl Yin says:

    Dear Shentong,
    Hello. I am a Chinese student in America, my partner Melissa Lin connected you earlier. We sincerely wish you can help us to understand this revolution deeper and closer. We learned that you were one of the leading student in this revolution. In your interview, you said you felt this responsibility and pressure on you for years. Can you talk about more about this responsibility you had? Do you regret to participate in this revolution? Who do you think is directly responsible for the massacre? Li Peng, Deng Xiaoping, or Shao Ziyang? What were the attitude and responds from the government before the massacre took place? In your opinion, is there a better way to end this revolution? I understand these questions may be hard to answer,I apologize if some of my questions offended you. All I want to do is to know the truth, to learn the real history, and to spread the massage of the Tiananmen Incident, therefore if there is anything else that you think we need to know please tell us. Thank you so much!

    Sincerely Yous,
    Beryl Yin&Melissa Lin

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