Tiananmen Square Massacre

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During the time prior to the infamous June 4 Massacre in Tiananmen Square China, there were numerous events in which provoked political tension and ultimately stimulated the massacre itself. These events date back to Hu Yaobang’s death followed by the AFS’ seven requests, Deng Xiaoping’s editorial, the student hunger strike, Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to China and the imposed martial law causing the tragic massacre. The Chinese Government, citizens, students, PLA and even some foreign journalists were impacted by these primary incidents to a great extent.

April 15 1989, is the date of Hu Yaobang’s death and historically the day which changed the lives of thousands of Chinese people forever. Hu Yaobang was a progressive man of moderate ideals who was pushing towards the freedom of dialogue and media. Hu was considered a traitor by the CPC as he did not uphold Maoist Ideology; however he was a hero to the majority of students and intellectuals who favoured democratic ideals. Many students, intellectuals and even civilians were greatly impacted as they were discomforted by the lack of respect by the Government who made subdued funeral arrangements. So in response, 200,000 students had defied a ban to carry out a demonstration of mourning for Yaobang. In addition, they had delivered a petition to the Premier of the Politburo Standing Committee, Li Peng and demanded that the Government reassess his legacy. After such a successful demonstration at Yaobang’s mourning which was not acted against by the Government, many students became aware of the potential of their large mass and its capabilities, and hence the death of Hu Yaobang was respectively the spark of a fire for the many Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 which would soon have a large-scale impact on the whole of China. “The senior comrades are getting worried.”1 The student demonstrations had a minor impact on the CPC as they became somewhat concerned, not wanting them to escalate into anything bigger or continue on for any longer.

The Autonomous Federation of Students was quickly growing in population as many students joined by their own will. The AFS had seven imperative requests: re-evaluate Hu Yaobang’s achievements and mistakes, completely denounce the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign and the Anti Bourgeois Liberalisation Campaign, allow free press and freedom of speech, disclose the income of the leaders and their families, cancel the ten 1987 Beijing Municipal Regulations against demonstrations, increase spending for education and improve living standards for intellectuals, and lastly to truthfully report the memorial activities. These requests were often demanded and chanted at the student demonstrations that were growing in size and frequency, up until the June 4 Massacre. The CPC were impacted exceedingly by these ongoing demonstrations as Xiaoping had described the protesters as, “picking up the bowl to eat meat, and putting it down to curse their Mother.”2 During the non-violent demonstrations, hundreds of thousands of people in the square screamed out, “Deng Xiaoping retire!”3 Again, the Government were increasingly impacted as they harshly replied with, “We are dealing with the dregs of society and a gang of rebels who want to subvert our country.”4 The demonstrations and the initial seven requests were evidently impacting drastically on the Government and the students, but what about the civilians? “Workers out on the streets… transportation out of whack.”5 Of course civilians also were affected by these events as stated by Shangkun; even the public transport was out of order.

Deng Xiaoping strongly believed that the student demonstrations, “threatened to throw China into political turmoil.”6 as he repetitiously highlighted this in the April 26 editorial condemning the Tiananmen Square protesters. The harsh words of the editorial had classified the student movement as a planned conspiracy. Xiaoping’s editorial itself, was a result of the previous...
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