Rise to the top
Another Beida contemporary, Li Keqiang, has fared better.
Li, who studied law and later earned a Ph.D. in Economics at Beida, is now one of the two most powerful leaders in China. Last November, he was catapulted into the top tier of the Communist Party during the party's once-in-a-decade leadership transition before being installed as China's premier in March.
"He gave me a good impression then and even now," Wang tells me as he takes a break from his Times Square protest. "He exuded the spirit of Beida -- vigorous, who prevailed with reason, virtue and performance rather than race, nationality and bloodline."
But Wang thinks Li has a dual character. "On the one hand, Li is keen, diligent, eloquent and open-minded, not arrogant. On the other, he is savvy, a good listener and a sharp observer of different opinions from different sides, but he never crosses the forbidden zones."
After college, Li avoided political activism and dissent, or studying overseas, as many of his contemporaries chose to do. Instead, he opted to climb the ladder of the Communist Youth League -- a training ground for communist leaders -- where he became the protégé of the former President Hu Jintao. Analysts say Li is a virtual political clone of Hu.
Looking back at the colorful careers of these three Beida contemporaries -- Bo on the Left, Wang on the Right and Li in the Center -- I am reminded of how our alma mater is so closely linked with China's recent history and politics.