Explain Why the Chinese Government Reacted as It Did to the Tiananmen Square Massacre

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The reactions to the ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’ from the ‘Chinese Communist Party’ were driven by a need to maintain total control of China. As Michael Lynch states in the supporting quotation, they were willing to curtail the political freedoms of the public to do so. Most modern historians, including Lynch and Zhang Liang believe the immediate reactions of the C.C.P. were motivated by China’s political leaders who wanted a “violent end to the affair.” The long-term reactions from the C.C.P. were shrouded in secrecy and plagued by misinformation. These immediate and long-term reactions were justified by two core reasons; one passionate and one pragmatic. The first was a matter of revenge; Deng Xiaoping wished to punish the protestors after two months of rebellion. Pragmatically, Deng and the C.C.P., in their quest for total control, realised they had to crush their enemies and deter future threats and their reactions reflected this mentality.

Deng Xiaoping and the C.C.P. acted in part in vengeance for the actions of the protestors in the months leading up to the massacre in Tiananmen. The resistance which culminated in the protests at Tiananmen Square was the boldest challenge to the C.C.P. since it was born out of the Chinese Revolution in 1949. Deng, whilst no doubt also heavily influenced by pragmatic reasons, was intent on retribution. Michael Lynch realised as much, “For their two-month defiance of the government, the protestors were to be made to atone in blood.” Tiananmen was the climax of a decade of frustration for many of the Chinese people. When Deng Xiaoping came into power in 1979 he promised sweeping reforms for China after the failures of Mao’s five and seven year plans. However, high inflation, downturns in agriculture and industrial production and an uncontrolled, burgeoning population quickly evaporated the promise felt by the Chinese. The students and the intelligentsia were the primary groups who displayed their frustration against...
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