Chinese students in 1987 reflected an admixture which combines the pre-1949 legacy with more developments introduced during the Maoist and Dengist periods. Chinese students have always been and, equally important, have always perceived themselves as being a small elite within Chinese society. By almost any standard of measurement, Chinese students in the 1980s are different from their counterparts of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Unsupervised student discussion groups at China's top universities were to be put under control. These salons or debating societies had been used to discuss sensitive topics such as democracy or homosexuality. An important plank in China's post-Mao modernization strategy is the training of Chinese students outside the country. The response of students overseas to the dramatic events of December 1986-January 1987 revealed the tensions in the student-Party relationship and showed that the independent tradition of student activism is alive and well.