#02 – From Comrade to Consumer. People, Relationships & Social Attitudes since the 1980s

event #02
October, 26 2010

ZHANG Lijia 张丽佳


ZHANG Lijia is the author of the best-seller ‘Socialism is Great’, an interesting portrait of social change in contemporary China. Now a writer, journalist, social commentator and TV show host; Zhang Lijia spent the  1980s in a factory in Nanjing that produced intercontinental missiles capable of reaching North America. To escape the oppressive routine, she taught herself English. Her journey from being a disillusioned worker to  an organizer in support of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989 illustrates the sea-change sweeping China in the reform era. Lijia will discuss her book, her personal experience of change in China over the past three decades and her thoughts on China’s position in the world.

Speaker Biography

ZHANG Lijia is a rocket factory girl turned writer, journalist and public speaker. She was born and raised on the banks of the Yangtze River. In 1980 when she was 16, she was pulled out of school to work. Her widely acclaimed English-language memoir, “Socialism is Great!” chronicled her decade-long experience at the rocket factory. Her journey from being a worker to a prominent social commentator reflects the great transformation undergone by China itself. She will help you to understand where China was coming from, where it is now with its pressing issues and where it is going in the future. Her features, often very human stories about the plight of China’s “little people”, have been published in South China Morning Post, Far Eastern Economic Review, Japan Times, The Independent, Newsweek and The New York Times. She has been featured on the BBC, Channel 4, CNN, CBS and National Public Radio, among others. She lives in Beijing with her two daughters.
Described by Tony Blair as “an inspiring example of promoting the understanding between China and Britain” in his keynote speech during his state visit to China in 1998. Voted one of the “40 Beijing heroes” by TimeOut Beijing, October, 2008. Subject of a BBC documentary Peschardts People, May 2009. Recipient of the prestigious International Writer’s Program, University of Iowa, sponsored by the US State Department, 2009.

flyer event 02