The Struggle Between Continuity and Change in Tiananmen Square

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The events of Tiananmen Square in 1989 present the struggle between continuity and change through the clashing ideals of the Communist party and the civilians, especially the students, of China. The students, who leaned towards western ideals, demanded for political and economic reform that would ultimately lead to a more democratic and free society. They also campaigned against corruption, and this resulted in much support from the working class who had been exploited by the government. The westernised ideals of the students however, completely contradicted the views of the existing government of China. The communist government, which had ruled since 1949, was based on a socialist system and was the complete opposite of a democracy. To grant the students' demands required a change in government, an unlikely scenario, as government officials gained much wealth from their positions and therefore had no reason to change Chinese society.

The events of Tiananmen Square began with the death of Hu Yaobang who was "considered the most reform-minded member of the post-Mao leadership." Many students gathered in Tiananmen Square to mourn his death and to hold a commemoration but it soon escalated into a "protest for far-reaching change." The students demanded constitutional freedoms, the right to establish independent newspapers, a democratic system and economic reform.

The protest in Tiananmen Square was not only influenced by the death of Hu Yaobang but also by the market reforms that had been introduced by Deng Xiao Ping ten years earlier. The reforms caused high inflation rates of up to 30 percent and this resulted in a general sense of insecurity among the people. In fact, for many years before the Tiananmen Square protests, the desire for change had existed among the Chinese. In late 1985 and 1986, there were smaller organised protests against the government and the state of Chinese society. The push for reform that had been ignored by the government for so...
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