Tiananmen Square: 30 years on
30 years ago peaceful protests for democratic reform quickly turned into bloodshed as Chinese armed forces turned their weapons against their own. This is a timeline of what led to the Tiananmen Square massacre.
BEJING — 30 years ago peaceful protests for democratic reform quickly turned into bloodshed as Chinese armed forces turned their weapons against their own. This is a timeline of what led to the Tiananmen Square massacre.
On April 17, 1989, roughly 100,000 students gather in the heart of Beijing to protest for economic reform in China and in remembrance of Hu Yaobang, a former communist party chairman and reformist who had died just two days prior.
In the days to come, students are quickly joined by workers, public officials, and intellectuals, calling for an end to authoritarianism.
According to Reuters, on April 22, thousands of students assemble in Tiananmen Square to officially memorialize Hu, despite government warnings. They attempt to deliver a petition containing their demands for reform to government officials. The petition is rejected.
On April 26, the People's Daily, a Chinese state-run newspaper, retaliates by publishing an editorial accusing protestors of being anti-party and anti-socialist. The letter sparks even more protests and unrest from the public.
On May 19, then-party chief, Zhao Ziyang, and then-premier, Li Peng, meet with student protestors at Tiananmen Square. Zhao asks them to retreat but the negotiations are unsuccessful. He is later purged for failing to stop the protests. The following day Li declares martial law in certain areas of Beijing.
On May 30th, students raise a 10-meter statue in Tiananmen Square made of paper-mache and foam dubbed the "Goddess of Democracy" modeled after the Statue of Liberty.
On June 4th armed Chinese troops enter Tiananmen Square and begin to violently take down demonstrators using tear gas and bullets. The square is cleared of protestors by the following morning.
Later the same day an unknown protestor stops a tank convoy by defiantly standing in front of the leading tank. Archive footage shows the man climbing up the tank and attempting to speak to the tank commander. He is later removed by other protestors.
In a broadcast on June 6th, Chinese State media states the death toll was roughly 300 with only 23 students confirmed dead. However, witnesses claim deaths are probably in the thousands.
In China today, Tiananmen never happened. Remembering the massacre is in itself an act of rebellion and any information about the events that occurred is either censored or non-existent.
According to Reuters, Chinese internet company censors are now relying on AI technology to erase any text, images or videos related to the Tiananmen massacre.
A censor working for Beijing Bytedance told Reuters, quote, "We sometimes say that the artificial intelligence is a scalpel, and a human is a machete." end quote.
To this day, Chinese authorities have not released Tiananmen's official death toll.
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