On June 4, 1989, the Chinese 27th Army Division, opened fire on unarmed pro-democracy protesters. The Square of heavenly peace was soaked in blood. Street battles raged on for days. Thousands die. China must be punished for its actions.

Sounds like something you hear on the American news eh? Well this was not what happened. To a certain degree it was. But this is not an accurate account. I know because I was in China at the time. My friend was actually in Beijing on that night. I've done enough research to know the American perspective is wrong. I am NOT a ranting communist. I am viewing it from BOTH PERSPECTIVES. Before you click on the - vote button for having pro-China views, please read my whole article.

April 15, 1989. Hu Yaobang, disgraced former secretary general of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), dies. He was kicked out for failing to criticize the tiny pro-democracy protests a few years ago. By his funeral day a week later, over 200,000 people have gathered in Tiananmen Square, which is right next to the Great Hall of the People. Incidentally, that building is ugly ugly ugly. I cannot believe they use it as a symbol of greatness.

The People's Daily, quickly denounce the protests. Students from Beida (a.k.a. Beijing University), commonly acknowledged as China's best university, break through police barriers and end up in the Square of Heavenly Peace (translation of Tiananmen Square).

This event just coincided with Mikhail Gorbachev's visit to China. Sino-Russian relations have been at a low since the 1960's, so this event is historic. General secretary Zhao Ziyang (who sympathizes with the students) indicates willingness to talk with the student leaders.

May 13 saw the beginning of the massive hunger strikes by the students. 4 days later, 1,000,000 people have gathered at the square. Prime Minister Li Peng (a hardliner) holds a dialogue with the students. However, it was not a discussion. It was more like a teacher lecturing his students. The students dismiss the entire dialogue. The next day, Zhao Ziyang pleads the students to leave the square. They ignore him. By the next week, Zhao is under house arrest. Pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the USA give massive support.

Martial Law was declared on May 20 by Li Peng. Soldiers from outlying bases outside Beijing attempt to truck into the city. They were blocked by ordinary citizens in the suburbs of Beijing. The stalemate continues.

With Zhao Ziyang under house arrest, the hardliners are in control. On May 29, students from the Bejing Academy of Fine Arts erect a statue eerily similar to New York City's Statue of Liberty and put it across from Mao's giant picture in the Square. The next day, a government-sponsored pro-CCP protest was completely overwhelmed by the pro-democracy protestors, whose ranks have swelled to over 1 million.

On June 3, soldiers were ordered to move in on the city. They attempt to infiltrate the Square by use of the subway system, but were stopped cold when the subway operators shut down the whole system. That was when the tanks were ordered to break through the barricades. On the night of June 3, the soldiers reached the square and fired live ammunition randomly at the protestors. Street battles rage on for days in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. The official line: "No one died.". Zhao Ziyang is purged and replaced by Jiang Zemin.

That's the timeline. Of course what they didn't tell you is a few things that happened prior to June 4. The soldiers who DID manage to get to the square, well, their trucks were burned and they were savagely beaten, some to death. Radicals were seen wielding molotov cocktails and throwing pavement stones at the soldiers. By the way, they were not special riot troops. They were unarmored, and I would imagine that the bricks hurt a fair bit. Ditto for the molotovs.

They also totally ignored Zhao Ziyang. He warned them to obey the martial law. The army was initially ordered to disperse the crowds. They were met with violent protestors. No, not all the protestors were on hunger strikes. Only a small handful of them were. Most of them were very much active in the rioting. When they were ordered to clear the square by all means on the night of June 3, they did the only thing they could.

Furthermore, a significant percentage of the protestors there were NOT there for pro-democracy reasons. They demanded the resignation of Li Peng. That would do nothing for the democracy movement. I believe what they really wanted was an end to the extreme corruption that was rampant in China at the time. So when the American media told you about all those people dying for democracy, they were wrong.

I am in no way condoning the killings. Yes I am very moved by the poignant photograph of a single man blocking an entire column of tanks heading for the Square. What I am trying to say is, I am sick of all the hate people have toward China. Just because it is a communist country. The scapegoating of innocent scientists (BTW, Li Wen Ho, the scientist accused of stealing nuclear secrets, is Taiwanese, not mainland Chinese), the free Tibet protests (personally, I do not believe Tibet should be free), the list goes on. The American press needs a new "evil empire" to write on. China is the most convenient target. Living in the US now, every day I see anti-Chinese articles everywhere. Do not tell me the US does not spy on China. And don't even try to tell me the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade Yugoslavia was an "accident". Be open-minded people. Don't believe everything the media tells you.

For this particular issue of Tiananmen Square Massacre, I have several comments out of my personal experience.
First of all, I was there. I was living in Beijing and our apartment was on a very famous street near Tiananmen Square. I was attending high school that time. I saw the students who fastened for democracy movement, I saw ordinary citizens volunteered to help students, I was in the demonstrations when 1 million people gathered around May 17, 2000. I also know that part of the public transportation system stopped for almost one month in Beijing. There was violence, of course. Even, there was corruption among student leaders whose purposes were anti-corruption and democracy. (BTW, some of them managed to come to USA and get green cards, maybe with the donation money. )

Secondly, although I was there, I still did not know what was going on. The description in Tiananmen Square Massacre by Dman is almost accurate in the sense of "higher level". And I shall not repeat his. All and only I can tell you is what I heard, what I saw, and what I felt with my own senses. I heard the shooting at that unforgettable night. Because of the location of our school, we did not have class for one week (the only good thing). Stores on our street closed for one week, this was also historic, because the name of the street is Wangfujin (almost every Chinese knows what I am talking about). The son of our neighbor's was missing for two days because he was trapped somewhere when running for his life. Military helicopters flew over the city in and out of the square. Trucks, burned by violent protestors, remained on street for as long as several months. Soldiers came and lived in the neighborhood for a year. Too much to tell. Memory flashes back like waves.

Thirdly, It was an critical event. After almost 11 years, we did not talk about it again officially. What really happened and how it happened will not be revealed in near future. It was horrible, but not just like what American news said. There was a lot more.

Regarding the negative media exposure of Chinese government and CCP in USA, I get used to it and sick of it. In fact, I was not totally satisfied with what CCP did to China and the current situation in China. I admit, we are poor and underdeveloped. But, we are on our way to become strong and trying to make our people live better. (Maybe this is what some people are afraid of, a stronger China.) Most anti-Chinese press lacks of facts or just presents partial facts, if it is not distorting facts. Anyone, who attacks the "one child policy" and thus attacks China, should take a trip to China. All the anti-China measures will only make things worse for Chinese people, I mean, people, workers, farmers, .... (And, I don't think the politicians are thinking of Chinese people when they are making anti-China bills.)

As ordinary people, we don't know what is really going on. We listen to the radio, watch TV, read newspapers, and get information from our educational systems. The media are biased and so are we. The only way we can be less biased is to open our mind.

The August 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre was a shocking, and horrid wakeup call to the world that although the Soviet Union may have been collapsing, Communism in China was not yet ready to die.

The Tiananmen Square Protest began when the former secretary general of the Communist party, Hu Yaobang died of a sudden heart attack. Immediately following his death, the Zhongnanhai swarmed with students and protestors who demanded to speak with Prime Minister Li Peng about Hu Yaobang's dismissal in 1987.

Hu Yaobang was one of the key leaders in rehabiliting intellectuals following the Cultural Revolution and was only dismissed after claims that he was being soft on protestors following the 1986 Tiananmen Square Protest.

At first the Prime Minister allowed a memorial for the former secretary in the Great Hall of the People, and as thousands started to amass to honor Hu Yaobang, 3 student representatives knelt outside the hall with a petition addressed to Li Peng. The Prime Minister issued no response.

The next day, the government published newspaper, the People's Daily had an article that suggested the students protesting for democracy might be planning a coup. On May 4, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang met with foreign bankers and had a speech that contradicted the article in the People's Daily earlier. By this time students from more than 40 universities had amassed at the square.

With an ever growing crowd of protestors and an unresponsive government, many started to go on hunger strikes and began putting pressure to get a meeting with Prime Minister Li Peng which was finally granted on the 6th day of the hunger strikes.

The long awaited meeting between 3 key student protestors and Li Peng was less than stellar. The students made it extremely obvious that they wanted massive democratic changes in China. They got nothing as Li Peng avoided answering questions about any of their demands, instead focusing on the many people who passed out while on hunger strike. At this point, martial law was being considered by the Communist government.

Once word of martial law developments leaked out to the protestors, a massive sit-in was started. Li Peng went on national television where he called for strong action against the protestors who where causing "turmoil." By this time the famous plaster "Goddess of Democracy," has been created, it will be smashed when the army storms and forcible removes the protestors.

The day after Li Peng's announcement, martial law is declared in China. The army attempts to enter the square, only to be blocked by swarms of protestors. On May 23, the Alliance to Protect the [Chinese] Constitution is established and is retaliated with the Defend Tiananmen Square Headquarters. On May 30, the Alliance issues an ultimatum for the protestors to leave Tiananmen Square or suffer the consequences. This is rebuked by the Headquarters, the end is near.

On June 2, several students began another hunger strike. The government tired and furious at the protestors, orders the Commander-in-Chief of the army, Chai Ling to take back Tiananmen Square at all costs.

At 10:00 PM on June 3, the army smashes its way into Tiananmen Square. Scores of protestors and innocent civilians are killed as well as anyone yelling at the army. Those who stood in the path of tanks and armored personnel vehicles where ether shot or run over. By the morning of June 4, the square had been retaken to a disgusted world (To be just, the protestors weren't exactly innocent, they had rioted during the first attempted retake and the final expulsion. They even halted Bejing's public transporation system at one point and threw rocks and debris at unarmed volunteer soldiers).

Personal Opinions

I can never condone, or even rationalize the massacre that took place on June 3, 1989. To massacre scores of people who were peacefully protesting for change in governement because they are making the heads of state look bad is unexcusable. However, just as well, I think that the protestors knew they were pushing the limits of how much the government would tolerate and did it without any regard of consequences. When you're young you think you're bulletproof and you can change the world in an instant. It doesn't usually work that way and sometimes people have an unpleasant wakeup call to it. The best incident that is similar to the Tiananmen Square Massacre in the United States would be Kent State. Although it wasn't by the national government the same effect applied. There were tons of anti-Vietnam protests prior to the incident, but afterwards, hardly any occured. Why? People realized that they could get hurt. Nothing happened in the Tiananmen Square protest in 1986 and others around China, so no one expected it to happen in 1989.

It did and that's all that matters now.

Westerners are used to explaining the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989 as being a battle between the Communist state and those who wanted greater democracy in China, and this is to some extent true. But the students and intellectuals who were demanding political reform were not the only people who participated in this popular movement; they were joined by workers and even some members of the old elites who were finding their world profoundly shaken by the period of economic reform that the Chinese state had embarked on. In this respect, the Tiananmen Square protests were both pro-democratic and anti-capitalist in character.

Because we're used to seeing democracy and capitalism as two sides of the same coin, it is easy to forget that China by 1989 essentially had one and not the other, at least in Beijing. The fact that it is still the Communist Party that rules China masks the fact that this party has embarked on the most extensive programme of neo-liberal economic reform in the history of mankind; the Communist Party has become the vanguard of capitalism. Ever since China started moving towards a market economy in 1979, the Chinese state has deployed violence and repression in a way familiar to students of Communist states, but for a completely original goal: to bring about a capitalist revolution in the economy.

This meant that those moved to demonstrate in Tiananmen Square were not just people who wanted to see the state become democratic, but also those who had become disillusioned with the social promises of this Communist Party. The Chinese Communists moved from a system of centralized production and social guarantees such as pensions, the "iron rice bowl" (lifelong employment) and healthcare to a system that was based around the idea of transition – the idea that the market economy would eventually make everyone rich, but in the meanwhile some people had to be allowed to get rich first while others saw their social guarantees dismantled. By 1989, there was a stark contrast between the Communist Party's ideology of equality and its practice of inequality.

Western market economies took centuries to develop and saw plenty of social upheaval and poverty while they did so. But they usually developed out of the socio-economic sphere itself rather than seeing the widesperad reordering of social and economic life by state violence; this sort of shock therapy is a practice peculiar to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Britain, the bourgeoisie developed first and captured the state later - in China, the state has taken it upon itself to create a bourgeoisie from scratch, necessarily dismantling socialism in the process.

In China the market is being brought into existence through state violence and by huge redistributive policies. When a country is transitioning from socialism to capitalism, the question necessarily arises as to who benefits from the privatization of state enterprises and rural land – and a new elite is created out of those who are gifted these lucrative assets. This may create the conditions for long-term economic growth that will eventually benefit everyone, but in the short-term it creates a fundamentally political and social problem. This problem is easily dismissed by right-wing westerners until they remember that they themselves hardly live with brutal, unfettered capitalism, but enjoy a range of social guarantees.

China's process of privatization and its moves towards capitalism had already by 1989 polarized the rich and the poor, destroyed the system of state social welfare that used to exist in Chinese cities, and created a huge new impoverished urban underclass. These people went to Tiananmen with concrete social and economic demands, beseeching the state for the protection that its Communist ideology was supposed to oblige it to supply. They did not want to tear down the state or even necessarily want democracy; they saw themselves as part of a patriotic movement simply expressing the needs of the people to the state.

But the Chinese state was not going to listen. A fear of populism and grassroots movements is one of the defining characteristics of the Communist Party's ideology, as it equates it with the disastrous period of the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, when Communists in the localities went nuts and killed millions of people. One reason that democracy is such a scary concept to Chinese rulers is that they equate it with this sort of anarchy; they believe the people need to be controlled and directed sensibly by a process that will gradually, yet inexorably, lead the people to a better place without unleashing chaos.

And so, as we know, the protests in Tiananmen ended in massacre – not just of the intellectuals and the students who wanted democracy and political openness, but a massacre of the workers who the Communist Party was, in its own official ideology, supposed to be the representatives of. To many left-wing intellectuals in China, this came as a profound shock and laid bare to them the intimate marriage between the Communist Party's dictatorship, violence, and the implementation of a market economy. This Communist Party had committed violence that any western nation would have baulked at, and in the name of capitalism as well as its own control; and finally it was clear that these two things were identical.

Whatever the promises of economic growth in the future and despite the claims at the most recent Party Congress that there would be a newfound focus on ameliorating the shocks that attended the transition, it is with this mixture of political oppression and economic insecurity that the average Chinese citizen continues to struggle with today.

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