Talk:1989 Tiananmen Square protests/Archive 1

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Tiananmen: Why Most Chinese Don't Really care

Hello Ms. Swanson,

Yes, the Tiananmen was a terrible thing. The short answer to your question of how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was able to keep the Mandate [of Heaven to govern] is that Tiananmen, as terrible as it was, was nothing compared to what had happened to China in the early part of the 20th century.

Remember that China before the CCP was on the verge of disintegration, (some may argue that it had already been picked apart,) via foreign invasion and Kuomintang (KMT) misrule. The CCP came along and became the first Chinese organization in more than two centuries that successfully stood up for the Chinese people and fought against foreign bullies. This earned so many "brownie points" with the Chinese people that the CCP could hang on to the Mandate even after the fiascoes of the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

In addition, during the Spring of 1989, there was nothing that was going terribly wrong with China. In fact, China had never had it so good in its modern history. Sure, people wanted more personal freedoms, even political freedoms, they wanted to eliminate corruption and other inequalities, and Tiananmen was that attempt at gaining some of those things. However, the spector of pre-1949-style chaos was just too scary.

Remember also that the students and other protestors had occupied the [Tiananmen] Square for about a month or so (i.e., I do not remember how long it was exactly). There were no short-term goals that the students put out. Thus, only two possible endgame scenarios existed: first, everything ends amicably, the government agrees to look into the protestors' grievances, (which the CCP actually promised,) and the students pack up and go back to their campuses; the second would be the total capitulation of the government, i.e. the CCP implodes, (as Mr. Walsh had asked in his posts on this thread,) and leaves the government.

The CCP had taken steps to end the protest via the first scenario. The students were ready to leave, They felt that they had made their points, and they were running out of money to sustain the protest anyway--you need money to buy food to feed the protestors. Even free food coming out of the goodwill of non-protesting citizens would eventually get too expensive for those charitable citizens to sustain. However, there was a sudden change of mind. The protestors suddenly decided to stay, without any other clear demands. It seemed, someone had infused cash into the movement, and the unspoken goal was the fall of the CCP. (I suspect that the cash came from unknown supporters from Hong Kong who might have wanted the CCP to go away before the British handover of the territory to Beijing--in any case, that was not a democratic way to decide who would rule China and Hong Kong, and thus not of altruistic intentions anyway.)

This was all fine. Goodness knows, the CCP had done very bad things under Mao. However, that was a very simple-minded and naive thing for which to aim. If the CCP left, there would be a power vacuum. And guess what? Chaos! No question about it. The contest for the right to rule China would be one most tragic event in human history. If you think that the Balkans was a terrible thing, China would be about two orders of magnitude worse, (i.e., my own estimate, of course, based on the sizes of the population and landmass).

Internal power vacuums in China had often resulted in foreign invasion. The Yuan, the Qing Dynasty, the Japanese invasion, and modern China's tragic history shows that pattern. Also, it is my belief that the West overestimated the level of popular support that the Tiananmen protestors had. It was nowhere near the grassroots movement that many thought it was. Within China, the movement's lengthy occupation of Tiananmen Square and and other cities is bringing the country to a standstill and beginning to become a nuisance to the ordinary citizen who was anxious to get back to earning a living. In effect, the students overstayed their welcome. By June 4th 1989, the tide of sympathies had turned. This was no longer a protest for high ideals. It became a matter of keeping the law and order. Soldiers were probably easily convinced that these protestors were just disruptive. If Tiananmen really had grass-roots support, the military should have been won over by then.

To recap, Tiananmen was terrible. The CCP had so much goodwill left from being the first organization to stand up to foreign bullies in over two centuries that it survived the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and Tiananmen. To the Chinese people, Tiananmen was actually an insignificant incident relative to other events in modern Chinese history. The specter of chaos was very real. In the final analysis, the Chinese people probably decided that Tiananmen was not an event that angered them enough to overthrow the CCP.

N.B.: I know that people like Jim Walsh would probably challenge my last statements. "Who gave you the authority to speak for the Chinese people?" [Hint: "You don't,"] he will write. The answer is that I do not have the authority. However, it is my view that most Chinese feel that way from what I have read of interviews, including ones conducted by Western news organizations. I also believe that the evidence does show that the Chinese people do want the CCP to continue to govern China despite Tiananmen.

Here is the contemporary Chinese (not Western) view of Tiananmen: there is virtually no major support left for Tiananmen. Articles published in major news magazines during the time of Clinton's visit to China explained that students think that the better way to improve their lot is to study hard, get a good job, and earn a good living. When asked about Tiananmen, this new generation of students felt that it was a mistake on the part of the protestors. They also stated that they wanted democracy but not via a sudden change but a gradual move towards that end. I base my comments from articles in Newsweek, Times, BusinessWeek, and the Economist--a rather one-sided selection of periodicals and journals, I might add.

Finally, to save time and to avoid having to, yet again, debate Jim Walsh on my lack of authority to speak for the Chinese people, [Hint: I don't,] I understand that he challenges many other posters in a similar way--I want to say that I speak from my readings of various respectable magazines, (many of which, I feel, are rather biased against China in their reportage.). Of course that does not constitute a democratic poll of the Chinese people but nonetheless, I feel that it is still instructive to present these anecdotal stories and despite Mr. Walsh's challenges, should be available to anyone interested in the issues. Democratic polls, you see, are not the only means of hearing from ordinary people.


Very well put. Litha is spot on. ( 15:51, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

This article seems a bit disparaging of the legitimate government of the largest nation in the world. There is disproportionate accounting for casualties among Chinese troops and those among insurgents who defied legitimate authority for several weeks. The reference to "Western journalists who witnessed the event" implies those present -- primarily hiding in hotel rooms -- were somehow witness to a widespread event that transpired throughout Bejing and across China. The reference also suggests a consensus among Western journalists regarding casualties, which there was not. Early death counts by "foreign media" and repeated in US documents cited dozens, not hundreds or thousands of bodies. The Western journalists cited here are apparently those affiliated with pro-US and pro-Britian outlets.

Excuse me, but did you actually say 'legitimate' in describing the red dynasty? This is a government established by force of arms, which has killed tens of millions of chinese people, is currently engaged in genocidal activities against Tibet, the Uighurs, and other ethnic minorities in China, and which has never allowed an election even at the lowest local level in which a non-communist was allowed to run for office. If that's your idea of a 'legitimate' government, then I can only conclude that you and I have different definitions for legitimacy.
You are talking as if no Native American, British army, Confederate army, workers on strike, left-wing sympathists and ethnic minorities were killed or tortured without trail in American history. Legitimacy has many definitions in different time periods and/or places. But yours ain't in there. And talking about Tibet, would the goverment consisted of slave masters and warlords before 1950 more legit than PRC?

The assertion that Chinese students in the US largely sided with the protesters is a sweeping generality. Most Chinese nationals studying in the US at the time willingly returned to their homeland, and some of those who later came to the US to study represented their interests at the protests more like that of site-seers than as protesters. The article serves as evidence that China-bashing is still considered legitimate discourse in US intellectual circles.

Even declassified US government documents on the event offer better balance. Official US accounts state that "APCs (armored personnel carriers) were set on fire, and demonstrators besieged troops with rocks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails." Inclusion here of the photograph on that page of burned-out municiple busses could offer some balance for the narrowly focused and widely distributed Western image of a lone individual facing down a tank.

Maybe some links to articles on urban warface would be instructive. How does the Chinese response to thier domestic insurgency differ from US response to native insurgency in occupied Iraq, or in Panama that same year? They differ little, except the Chinese waited for weeks and attempted several non-violent responses before calling in the 27th Army.

Credible & reliable WESTERN sources This [ Site] created by Matthew White is arguably the most credible source for deaths in the 20th Century. Unlike other sites where they get information from just one source, this site has dozens of CREDIBLE Western (sometimes Eastern) sources for its casualty lists. Example: Casualties for World War II has over 20 sources!

Maybe it should be added that of the 7000 reported as wounded, 5000 were reported as military. Not mentioning this is seriously misleading for the reader. GWC, 17:33 EST, 11 Sep 2004

The reason I believe The Tiananmen Papers are a production of the Chinese government is the revisionist estimate of casualties. That is what gives it away. However, I also believe it contains substantial valuable information. I don't belive it is reliable on certain critical points, as for example the claim that no protesters were killed within the Square itself. I think with more research the article Tiananmen Massacre should be resurrected and give a detailed account of the battle, so to speak, and fully explore casualities and how and where they occured. User:Fredbauder

I agree that more research is neccessary, to find out more of what specifically happened. And The Tiananmen Papers may very well be a production of the Chinese government. But it didn't actually estimate casulties, it just said what each side (a two sided book, how rare) estimated. And to call one side's estimate (218 civilians, 23 military) revisionist but not the other (vague values that were not an acutal counting but various reporters' guesses, which all happen to conflict with one another) is not very open-minded. GWC, 17:30 EST, 11 Sep 2004. edited GWC, 15:07 EST, 18 Sep 2004

The claim that no one was killed in the square itself appears to be generally accepted. Hundreds of people were killed around the square, but when the troops surrounded the square itself, the protesters within the square made the decision to evacuate the square in good order rather than to create a blood bath. This is all well documented by eyewitness accounts of people within the square, and I don't know of anyone that seriously disputes this.

I changed the title of the article because there was also a very significant protest in Tiananmen in 1975. User:Roadrunner

In Red China Blues the author and many other jounalists were in a hotel overlooking the square and observed events within the square. Lengthy bursts of automatic weapons fire were observed. With regard to support of the government, there is a turn to Chinese Nationalism, but almost no support for Marxism, or Communism. This has been my observation from observing Chinese postings on the internet. I suspect the Tiananmen massacre pretty much finished off popular support. Fredbauder 00:57 Oct 21, 2002 (UTC)

Removed statement that Chinese government claimed that there were no causalities. The claim of the Chinese government is that there were no causalities in the square itself. As far as I know, no Chinese government official has ever denied that there were causalities outside the square.

As far as support for the Chinese government. There is no real support for Communism within the the government itself. The situation with Marxism is very complicated. Basically Chinese Marxism has been redefined so that it bears no resemblance to what most people in the West think of as Marxism. --Roadrunner

Intent of my previous edit wasn't to justify government's claims, merely to merge together this page and another page. I'm fine with your edits, but then again I really don't have any opinion on this whole issue. --TMC

Removed statement about little support for the Communist Party or its ideology. There is a huge range of opinion about the Communist Party in China today, but the statement that there is little support for it is not accurate. It's not universally loved, but at the same time it's not universially hated either. Ironically (and this is a wild simplification), businessmen tend to like the party while workers tend to dislike it. --Roadrunner

This also needs fixing

There was some minor disagreement within the ruling group, but all agreed that the lengthy demonstrations were a threat to the stablility of the country and especially to their continued rule. Abandonment of one party rule was seen by the leadership as a recipe for chaos. The demonstrators were seen as tools of advocates of "bourgeois liberalism" who were pulling the strings behind the scenes.

The disagreement in the Politburo was not minor. Zhao Ziyang and Hu Qili were actively supportive of the demonstrators and did not believe that abandonment of one party rule was a recipe for chaos. They lost the power struggle and the paragraph is an accurate assessment of the opinions of the people who won it, but this needs to be rewritten to reflect the huge rift that existed within the party.

-- Roadrunner

Also the information I have for the number of causalities within the square are from the PBS documentary film The Gate of Heavenly Peace which includes a number of interviews from people within the square itself. Basically, there was an argument over whether they should stay and die or leave the square and they decided to all leave.

-- Roadrunner

Changed the statement a bit. The PSC was actually very strongly divided between Zhao Ziyang and Hu Qili who were supportive of the students, Yao Yilin and Li Peng who were anti-student, and Qiao Shi who didn't seem to have an opinion.

-- Roadrunner

  1. In the opening paragraph, The protest started because of the death of the former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Hu Yaobang, who was ousted after protests in Tiananmen in 1987 needs some clarification. Why was Hu Yaobang ousted and how did he die? These should be explained in this sentence or a following sentence.
  2. Also, it would be nice if a second paragraph was introduced that summarizes the rest of the article, so people who want to get a quick idea about the event can do so without sifting through the article. The article is terrific, but a summary is necessary.
  3. Can a picture be loaded into the article of the Goddess of Liberty statue that was erected? Kingturtle 21:42 Apr 19, 2003 (UTC)

"...and thus lost his second position in the party..."

Can you clarify, does this mean he had the second highest status in the party, or was it the second position which he had held, after his first? -- John Owens 10:40 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I believe it is a factual statement that the Tiananmen Massacre pretty much finished off the Communist Party as the legitimate ruler of China. I base this on the contempt displayed by most Chinese toward the party after the Massacre. Whether one is sympathetic toward the party or not they have lost the trust of the people; they stole a lot more than a needle and a piece of thread.... Fred Bauder 11:41 8 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Such a statement cannot be made without an explanation. It can be debated that the economic success in the years after TAM, and "able" economic reforms led people to forgive and forget the party for what it did. Just as they can lose trust, they can gain it back. then, there are those who like to call it a foreign invasion [] deliberately trying to weaken China and throw it into turmoil. The counter-arguments are out there. My exposure to people in mainland China is limited to message boards. And I have never seen them condemn TAM; I have only seen them praise the actions of their government.
Something to keep in mind is what I call the aging hippie factor. Most people on bulletin boards today are too young to really have remembered TAM or for that matter the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. My general impression is that college age Mainland Chinese tend to be far more nationalistic and supportive of the CCP than older people.
As I said, I do know many people who dislike or hate the CCP, but I don't know any Chinese person that does so because of Tiananmen. One thing to keep in mind is that TAM is a "minor" issue in comparision to a lot of the other things that people have lived through. It has a lot of prominence in the West because it was televised live on CNN while the GLF and Cultural Revolution weren't. The day of TAM, the government of Burma massacred a fairly large number of students, but it wasn't on CNN so no one in the West remembers. --- Roadrunner

Maybe someone with a little more knowledge can comment...But if you are to make that statement, it has to be convincing. So far, there is no stated proof of that being true. There are definately no signs either. TAM only strengthened the hold of the party, and proposals by Zhao Ziyang to separate the state and party were shot down. --Jiang 12:02 8 Jul 2003 (UTC)

There are two big problems with Fredbauder's statement

One thing to keep in mind is that Chinese just like everyone else disagree among themselves and different people have different opinions about Party. Also if you really talk to people you see that their opinions can be very complex.

The statement that the Communist Party permanently lost its legitimacy among most Chinese because of TAM is simply not true based on my personal observations, and that includes being in China and talking with a lot of people with all sorts of opinions about the party. The Communist Party has a huge reservoir of support based on the good economy in the 1990's. There are lots of people who hate the Party but curiously there aren't very many people who hate the party because of TAM. People who dislike the Party either do so because of what happened to then during the Great Leap Forward or Cultural Revolution or because of what happened to them last year because of official corruption or Falugong. Tiananmen has remarkably little impact on current domestic Chinese politics.


Good luck reasoning with Fred, Jiang. If he decides to continue inserting that a government has "no legitimacy" (that's POV even for Fred!), just ask me to protect this page and I will. 172

About the changes in the photo caption:

This photo, the lone individual refusing to yield to a column of tanks, emerged as the most memorable image in the West. Generally, in East Asia, where collective struggle is emphasized more than heroic individualism, the more memorable image was the column of students refusing to yield.

I also removed the emotive word "stirring" due to obvious POV problems. 172

The image of the lone protestor in front of a column of tanks was shown on the front page of virtually every newspaper in Britain, the USA and many other countries. It deserves to be in this article for that reason alone. We can debate what is the best caption to put on it. Mintguy 20:49 20 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I did not realize that I had removed the photo. In my first edit, I changed the wording to "this image became a symbol of the protests to many in the West." In my subsequent edits, I focused on spelling. I guess I had accidentally removed it.

I agreed that the photo belongs in the article. I just wanted to make it clear that it was more memorable in the West. It was also necessary to remove the emotive word "stirring." Thanks for restoring it under a new, more neutral caption. 172

I think the photo at the begging of the article is misleading. It implies the guy was crushed, but there is no picture to prove that. A video clip is better, at least it has more context information.

In addition, to stand in front of tanks requre less courage in China at 1989, because of the education or so called brainwash I received make an average student dare to so. As a high school student at 1989, I am confident that I will not be crushed by my army; and an average soldier would refuse to crush their peopple with tank because this conflict is so called "conflict between citizens" or "人民内部矛盾", not "conflict between us and enemy" or "敌我矛盾". In general, I think the guy stopped the tanks successfully.

I think education should be an important section in this article, since so many students involved. Any body have more information about Chinese education?

A remarkably bloodless description of the deaths of 6,000 people. Were these people armed and fighting, or did the troops shoot at unarmed civilians? The subsequent reference to "battles" is suspicious too - what were protesters using for weapons then? Seems like a double standard to have an article entitled My Lai massacre going into great detail about American troops killing civilians, complete with photos of dead bodies, but then to completely softpedal the deaths of thousands of civilians at the hands of Chinese troops. Stan 21:18 20 Jul 2003 (UTC)

In answer to one of your questions, many protesters were setting fire to tanks and blowing out tires, and the such. This isn't typically disputed because there are pictures out there. Something interesting is the large statistics are usually much more vague. This is because the media estamates were just that--estamates. Reporters there in person could not count the bodies. Actual counts typically put the estimate at 218 civilians and 23 military (6 of the military were an accident, we don't know how many civilian deaths were accidental). Of course the Chinese government has a reason to downplay the deaths. But then, the media has a reason to elevate the deaths (think sales). In the end its depends on who you believe more, reporters that have no way to truly count and consequently just report idefinate guesses such "more than a thousand", or actual official counts that may have been fabricated. GWC, 17:23 EST, 11 Sep 2004

Removed sections

The following was removed by 172; some may be legitimate, some may not:

Unlike the Tiananmen protests of 1987, which consisted largely of students and intellectuals, the protests in 1989 commanded widespread support from the urban workers who were alarmed by growing inflation and corruption. In Beijing, they were supported by a large proportion of the population, perhaps by a majority. At their height, the protests involved over a million people. Similar numbers were found in major cities throughout Mainland China.

The Politiburo Standing Committee was hopelessly divided between those who advocated a soft approach to the demonstrations and those who advocated a crackdown. The decision to crack down on the demonstrations was ultimately made by a group of Party elders. Although most of these people had no official position, they were able to control the military, as Deng Xiaoping was chairman of the central military commission and was able to declare martial law, and as Yang Shangkun was President of the People's Republic of China. The Party elders believed that lengthy demonstrations were a threat to the stability of the country, and saw abandoning one-party rule as a recipe for chaos.

Some lists of the victims of what became known as the Tiananmen Massacre were created from underground sources. Estimates of the number of civilians range up to 2,600 (Chinese Red Cross). Injuries are generally held to have numbered from 7,000 to 10,000. The Chinese government has claimed that no demonstrators were killed within the Square. This claim appears to be technically true, in that the demonstrators within the square itself decided to leave rather than provoke a bloodbath; but it ignores the large number of casualties in the streets leading up to the Square.

The Tiananmen Protests seriously damaged the reputation of China in the West. Much of the impact of the protests in the West was due to the fact that western media had been invited to cover the visit of Mikhail Gorbachev in May, and therefore were able to cover the government crackdown live through networks such as the Cable News Network.

Many Chinese students in the United States expressed considerable sympathy for the student protests, and the Tiananmen Square protests triggered the formation of Internet news services such as the China News Digest. In the aftermath of Tiananmen, organizations such as the China Alliance for Democracy and the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars were formed, although these organizations would have limited political impact beyond the mid-1990s.

Within Mainland China itself, the effects of the protests were more mixed. In the immediate aftermath of the protests, conservatives attempted to roll back some of the reforms that had been undertaken as part of Chinese economic reform and to re-institute administrative controls over the economy. These efforts met with stiff resistance from provincial governors and collapsed completely in the early 1990s, as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Deng Xiaoping's trip to the south. The continuance of economic reform led to economic growth in the 1990s, which stood in contrast to the collapsing Soviet Union and allowed the Chinese government to regain much of the support that it had lost in 1989.

The Tiananmen Square protests did put an end to discussions on political liberalization that had occurred in the late 1980s. Although some increase in personal freedom in mainland China has occurred since Tiananmen, discussions on structural changes to the PRC government and the role of the Chinese Communist Party remain taboo.

However the Communist Party of China (CPC) managed to rebuild much of the legitimacy it lost in the late 1980s by addressing the root causes of student discontent. The economy reached a relatively good shape, with low inflation; overcrowding in dormitories is far less pressing; the massive migrations from the countryside to the cities in the 1980s, perhaps the largest-scale human migration in history, are far more orderly.

In addition, the CPC has followed a policy of discouraging local demonstrations from becoming national ones by a combination of incentives and repression. The Party now responds quickly to economic protests by quickly and sometimes simultaneously making concessions to the demonstrators while arresting leaders.

Moreover, rising living standards facilitated by market reforms within the framework of tight CPC control of the vast, rapidly-changing country have eased anger, at least domestically, over the Tiananmen crackdown.

I only noticed the fact that the image had been removed, I didn't actually read the article before or after 172's edit. However, I can clearly see now that an awful lot of useful information has simply been deleted, rather than reformatted into the rewritten article. 172, was all of the information above redundant? Mintguy 21:34 20 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I have restored the article with its links and analysis. NPOV cannot include deletion of valid information which places the event in its international and historical context and replacing it with garbage out of the People's Daily Fred Bauder 22:03 20 Jul 2003 (UTC)

The removal of those sections was accidental. In fact, some of the sections removed were my own additions. When correcting the atrocious spelling on Microsoft Word, I guess I lost those sections when cutting and pasting. This is an embarrassing oversight, but thankfully the changes are not permanent. However, I do intend make sure that Fred did not restore the misspellings and emotive language that I was trying to correct. 172

Hey Bud, mass murder stirs the emotions. Fred Bauder 09:43, 5 Sep 2003 (UTC)

What mass murder are you talking about? It is not like this was in the scale of the Nanking Massacre or the Sebrenica massacre. Deaths occurred due to the skirmishes resulting from the clash between troops enforcing Martial Law and the crowd. Casualties numbering a few hundred does not seem unusual considering the size of the crowd present.( 15:29, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

I readded notes about the death toll and the events from the square. The source for this was the WGBH broadcast, which actually portrays both the demonstrators and the Chinese government rather unfavorably.

Also I changed the note about the Tiananmen Papers. The Papers themselves with authored by the Chinese government. They were released to the West by a lone source within the Chinese government, but they weren't authored by him.


Shouldnt the 'p' in "protests" be capitalized like September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks and Nanjing Massacre? --Jiang 07:32, 5 Sep 2003 (UTC)

No, because the title we use is a made up Wikipedia phrase that serves disambiguation purposes. The names that can be capitalized are Tiananmen Incident for the 1975 protests and Tiananmen Square Protests or Tiananmen Massacre for the 1989 protests. Fred Bauder 09:53, 5 Sep 2003 (UTC)

We are using "Tiananmen Square Protests". --Jiang 15:52, 5 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Well, I mispoke in the first place, a google search reveals the usual usage to be "protests" Fred Bauder 16:08, 5 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Hong Kong

Should add to the article:

  1. a million's match in Hong Kong as a support for the students.
  2. The establishment of Next Media by Lai Chi Ying, a direct consequence.
  3. An immigration tide from Hong Kong, and the new Chinatown of Richmond, British Columbia
  4. Its effect on the writing of Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23.

-wshun 23:41, 23 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Can someone go into more detail about this

Some workers who participated in the protests were reportedly motivated by new environmental regulations, promulgated by the CCP-led government, which shut down wide-spread rural industries including small-scale smelters that had started under Mao Tse-Tung then evolved into private or village enterprises in the 1980's. In a display of Chinese courtesy, Beijing residents greeted the arriving troops and provided them food much the same as they had assisted protesters who arrived in the city during preceeding weeks.


The article says "The Tiananmen protests also led to an arms embargo to the Chinese government on the part of the United States and the European Union and the passage of the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1993", but the See also provides a link to Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992. I don't know which one is correct, or there are two documents? --Yacht 13:45, Mar 8, 2004 (UTC)

The bill was passed in 1992 but implemented by regulation in 1993, [1], most but not all Google hits are to Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992. Fred Bauder 21:58, Sep 11, 2004 (UTC)

I added a lot of background, and made one potential controversial edit. I removed a phrase (partly to censorship) implying that much of the support among 20-something Chinese students is due to ignorance about the Chinese governments human rights policies. In my personal experience, current supporters of the Chinese government aren't unaware of government repression, most of the consider it a "necessary evil".

Roadrunner 05:29, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Roadrunner's changes

A blizzard of changes, some useful, some tenditious. Because of the totalitarian nature of the regime it is not appropriate to present material in the article based on public opinion or personal experience as that data is necessarily corrupted. If the Chinese government held an election they would be out on their ear. Likewise to say that the student organizations were in disarray is to not express the reality that they were forcibly suppressed. I am tempted to revert the whole mess. I do understand the tension associated with this becoming a featured article, but wish you would reconsider some of the more radical changes. Fred Bauder 12:56, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

It is true that the collapse of the dictatorship would result in a period of unrest and stability would be reestablished only after long suffering but that to a great extent results from the political vacuum in the country which results from totalitarian practices. Fred Bauder 12:56, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

I read the changes, and I think they are rather good, expanding many sections with useful information. Could you quote the changes which make you think reversion is necessary? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus 21:17, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I am not aware of any nexus in this edit [2] between

The second group were those, including urban industrial workers, who believed that the reforms had gone too far. The loosening economic controls had begun to cause inflation and unemployment which threatened the livelihood of urban industrial workers.

and the protests in Tiananmen square. Corruption was a concern both of the protestors and the ruling committee of the politburo but neither the students nor the townspeople who supported them were protesting economic reforms. Fred Bauder 23:53, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

Likewise the following addition in this edit [3] appears to be without foundation:

Although the initial protests were taken by students and intellectuals who believed that the Deng Xiaoping reforms had not gone far enough, they were able to soon attract the support of urban workers who believed that the reforms had gone too far. This occurred because the leaders of the protests focused on the issue of corruption which united both groups, and because the students were able to invoke Chinese archetypes of the selfless intellectual who spoke truth to power.

What it does is negate the possibility that the townspeople of Beijing (especially including the neighborhoods where many Communist Party functionaries lived) supported the demands of the students for democracy and an end of corruption by Party officials. In fact it introduces pseudoscientific Marxist determinism into the article. Fred Bauder 23:59, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

The next edit [4] consisted of removing most of this:

There was considerable sympathy for the student protests among Chinese students in the United States, and the Tiananmen Square protests triggered the formation of Internet news services such as the China News Digest. In the aftermath of Tiananmen, organizations such as the China Alliance for Democracy and the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars were formed, although these organizations would have limited political impact beyond the mid-1990s. The Tiananmen protests also led to an arms embargo against the Chinese government on the part of the United States and the European Union, and the passage of the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992.

Thus disposing of some unwanted links and replacing it with this:

Images of the protests along with the collapse of Communism that was occurring at the same time in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe would strongly shape Western views and policy toward China throughout the 1990's and into the 21st century. There was considerable sympathy for the student protests among Chinese students in the West, and almost immediately, both the United States and the European Union announced an arms embargo, and the image throughout the 1980's of a China which was reforming and a valuable counterweight and ally against the Soviet Union was replaced by that of a brutal and bloody authoritarian regime which indiscriminately violated human rights. The Tiananmen protests were frequently invoked to argue against trade liberalization with China and by the blue team as evidence that the Chinese government was an aggressive threat to world peace and United States interests.

If it were not a brutal and bloody authoritarian regime it wouldn't need to machine gun people in the streets of its capital. I don't think any knowledgeable person changed their opinion, those in the know already knew and had accepted it as a cost of our alliance with China. Remember, China, however totalitarian, never adopted a policy of aggressive war as the Soviet Union did. Fred Bauder 00:08, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

The next edit, [5] by Ran,

many Chinese no longer consider political liberalization to be a particularly urgent matter on the agenda, preferring to see slow stepwise democratization instead, or reacting with open hostility at calls for liberalization coming from abroad, which are perceived as foreign meddling.

is without foundation. There is no way to guage public opinion in a totalitarian state. What the Chinese man on the street may or not say is not more reliable than reports of what the Soviet man on the street said. (What they believed and practiced in private was very different). Fred Bauder 00:13, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

Roadrunner, however, removed Ran's addition with his next edit [6] which included:

Nevertheless, despite early expectations in the West that Chinese government would soon collapsed and be replaced by the Chinese democracy movement, by the early 21st century the Communist Party of China remained in firm control of the People's Republic of China, and the student movement which started at Tiananmen was in complete disarray. One reason for this was that the Tiananmen protests did not mark the end of economic reform.

I am unaware of any serious analysis that predicted the collapse of the dictatorship, or its replacement by democracy. That the student movement is in disarray is to be expected after the killing of many of its supporters and imprisonment of its leaders. It is usual in a totalitarian regime that opposition movements are suppressed. The relationship of reduced agitation for democratic reforms with continuation of economic reform is a non sequiter. Apologists for the regime parrot it but where is any objective evidence of a connection? Fred Bauder 00:23, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

Roadrunner also added this:

In addition, the student leaders at Tiananmen were unable to produce a coherent movement or ideology that would last past the mid-1990's. Many of the student leaders came from relatively well off sectors of society and were seen as out of touch with common people. Furthermore, many of the organizations which were started in the aftermath of Tiananmen soon fell apart due to personal infighting.

Again we have the pseudoscientific Marxist class analysis, but remember if they came from a well off sector of society it was because many of them were children of Party members. Who saw them as out of touch with "common people"? In fact where is the authority for any of this? It is a commonplace that those clandestine organizations which the secret police know about have been suppressed but what authority would Roadrunner offer for any of these details?

The next edit [7] :

Hu had been seen as a liberal with a common touch, and his ousting in response to student protests in 1987 was widely seen to be unfair.

seems reasonable. Fred Bauder 00:32, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

In his next edit, [8] Roadrunner removes some links, italicized:

demands for freedom of the press and an end of the rule of China by the Politburo and Deng Xiaoping, a Party elder who ruled from behind the scenes.

and replaces them with a link to Communist Party of China. The problem is that neither the Communist Party or the rubberstamp legislatures that are convened from time to time rule China; China is ruled by the small group in the standing committee of the politburo. So the effect is to replace factual information with fantasy. Fred Bauder 00:41, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

The following was added:

the protests also evoked the Tiananmen Square protests of 1975 which eventually led to the ousting of the Gang of Four.

Again a tenuous connection inserted without any cited authority and of dubious accuracy. Fred Bauder 00:41, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

The next edit [9] adds some information but removes the information that the Standing Committee was deadlocked. Which is why they turned to Party elders. Fred Bauder 00:44, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

In the next edit [10] "Party elders who saw abandonment of single-party rule as a recipe for chaos." is replaced with "Party elders who saw abandonment of single-party rule as a return of the chaos of the Cultural Revolution."

Again, no authority is cited that the Party elders are so simple that they feared the excesses of the Cultural Revolution rather than democracy. Fred Bauder 00:53, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

The next edit [11]

In addition, the death of Hu allowed Chinese to express discontent with his successors without fear of political repression, as it would have been extremely awkward for the Communist Party of China to ban people from honoring a former General Secretary.

Seems reasonable enough but is sharply at variance with the Tiananmen Incident. Fred Bauder 01:16, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

In the next edit: [12]

In Hong Kong, the Tiananmen square protests led to fears that the PRC would not honor its commitments under one country, two systems in the impending handover in 1997. One consequence of this was that the new governor Chris Patten attempted to expand the franchise for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong which led to friction with the PRC. There have been large candlelight vigils in Hong Kong ever year since 1989 and these vigils have continued following the transfer of power to the PRC in 1997.

was added. Heh, it was suppression of the protests that lead to fears... Again there is the unsupported assertion that a particular action followed from the demonstrations. Fred Bauder 01:16, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

Also added:

In addition, several overseas democracy activists were supportive of limiting trade with the People's Republic of China which significantly decreased their popularity both within China and among the overseas Chinese community.

This assumes simplicity among the Chinese public which is at variance with experience. The international boycott of South Africa, another totalitarian regime was quite effective. Fred Bauder 01:16, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

In Roadrunner's final edit: [13]

Among urban industrial workers, the continuation of market reforms in the 1990's brought with it higher standards of living as well as increased economic uncertainty. Protests by urban industrial workers over issues such as unpaid wages and local corruption remain frequent with estimates of several thousand of these protests occurring each year. The Communist Party of China appears relatively tolerant of these protests provided that protests remain directed at a local issue and do not call for deeper reform and do not involve coordination with other workers.

again returns to the notion that urban industrial workers played some role in the protests. I think this material perhaps belongs in some other article as it has little to do with the protests for democracy. Fred Bauder 01:16, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)


If these protests were about the desire to have "democracy", why were the protestors singing The Internationale as even foreign affairs admits? [14] Is this the type of thing people seeking US-type elections and capitalism do? How about the support from workers who were unhappy with privatization? Also, like any uprising, there are different parts of the coalition. You are only focusing on what the students whom the US corporate news chose to broadcast said. Ruy Lopez 04:29, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Many of the students were the children of Party members and other favored sectors and were not asking for overthrow of Communism but for democratic reforms to the existing system. Singing the Internationale expressed their loyalty to the ideals of communism. In the context of the times, remember the Soviet Union had not collapsed at that point, the notion that democratic reforms were possible was current in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. No doubt there was some conflation by the students of democracy as it might work in a communist society with Western style democracy but democracy was definitely the main item on their agenda, with perhaps corruption second. I am not comfortable with your characterization of the event as an uprising either, although viewed as a whole, perhaps. Perhaps folks with other grievances did coattail onto the protests but the focus of the demonstration in the Square was on democratic reforms. As to my focus, although I did watch it on TV, including interviews with protesters during the demonstration, a privilege denied to most Chinese, most of my information comes from Red China Blues and The Tiananmen Papers. However I will not change it back again until I can supply references from those or other works. Fred Bauder 12:37, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)

By the way, looking at the source you cite regarding the Internationale, [15], from the summary of the article which is a review of The Tiananmen Papers, "The massive student protests, which filled Beijing's Tiananmen Square and other public places in cities throughout China, were meant to push the country's authoritarian rulers toward political reform" which is the point I'm making. Fred Bauder 12:43, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)

Damn, that source of yours seems to be The Tiananmen Papers online or at least a synopsis of them. Ok here's the quote needed, in my opinion to support my edit, "On May 4, a student declaration was read in Tiananmen Square calling on the government to accelerate political and economic reform, guarantee constitutional freedoms, fight corruption, adopt a press law, and allow the establishment of privately run newspapers. The declaration said important first steps would include institutionalizing the democratic practices that the students themselves had begun to initiate on their campuses, conducting dialogue between students and the government, promoting democratic reforms of the government system, opposing corruption, and accelerating the adoption of a press law." [16] Fred Bauder

I said "even Foreign Affairs admits" because I am well aware that "my" source has the same point of view as you towards this, as you have stated. Your use of the word democratic in the context you describe is alien to how it is usually used on say American television. Was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution "democratic" because it had a mass movement take power from the Party bureaucracy? Was taking estates away from large landlords and handing them over to village communes a democratic reform because it turned one's autocratic control over land into communal control? If that were the case, "democratic reforms" could be replaced by a "return to socialism", since in that context it would mean the same thing.

If things were different; things would be different. Change the context and you change the meaning of words used in that context. Fred Bauder 00:44, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

As far as it being an uprising, it happened all over China, not just in Beijing, it was a mass movement, PLA officers refused to follow orders in many cases, and even a member of the Politburo became tainted by his "laxity". That sounds like an uprising to me. That's not to say it was a successful uprising.

It became an uprising as others with grievances saw an opportunity. Fred Bauder 00:44, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

Also, you're being selective in who supposedly represents the movement. The article as it stands shows that even amongst the ones who were privileged students with prominent party member parents, there were splits in attitudes. That's not to mention others in the square in Beijing, sympathizers in Beijing outside the square, and those outside of Beijing.

Yet there was a general outlook the students in the Square shared. Fred Bauder 00:44, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

It would be like asking who represented the French revolutionaries? There was the Gironde, whose base was the wealthy, and the Mountain, whose base was small businessmen, workers and the poor, with the Plain somewhere between these two (middle-sized businessmen). Saying only the Gironde or Mountain represented the anti-monarchy forces would be false, since the Revolution consisted of the Third Estate, which comprised all of them (except for radical priests in the Second Estate and some sympathy here and there in the First among minor lords). All movements of this type are coalitions, and you and the Foreign Affairs type media only focuses on one group in the coalition. And even this group has internal factions and differences, as the article attests to. -- Ruy Lopez 23:10, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Coalition is quite a stretch also, perhaps it had the potential to be those things. Fred Bauder 00:44, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

One perspective is missing here. You allude to the Foreign Affairs perspective conflating my perspective with theirs while presenting a conventional apologetic perspective but those who participated are silent. Fred Bauder 00:44, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

Check out "The Great Reversal" by William Hinton, about the history of China, for the chapter on the Tiananmen Square massacre. It is very good and not based on biased Western media reports of so-called pro-capitalism/pro-democracy protestors.

Mention of the massacre

It seems to me that the bloody crackdown that ended the protests was the most significant part of the event; shouldn't it be mentioned in the opening paragraph? One who is unfamiliar with the event would have to read pretty far down to be aware of its true importance. -R. fiend 22:16, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Agreed - I've summarised the relevant section in a new lead paragraph. -- ALoan (Talk) 11:39, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The new "Today" section

The newly added "Today" section would work better if it's integrated with the last part of "Aftermath". The last few paragraphs of "Aftermath" are indeed about attitudes and reactions prevalent today. -- [[User:Ran|ran (talk)]] 23:50, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)

I've copyedited slightly, but agree that it could be integrated. I snipped some text that I assume that this is quote in Chinese:


I can't read Chinese - does this add much? If so, perhaps a translated version should be added instead?-- ALoan (Talk) 11:30, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It reads:

As the world knows, after the political turmoil of 1989 occurred, our Party and our nation quickly took decisive measures to pacify it / calm it down. We continue to put into practice, with resolve, the basic route [of our Party], which is to go along a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

-- [[User:Ran|ran (talk)]] 17:37, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)

Concerning Recent Change to Background

I just noticed a recent edit of the Background section by user changing some of the wording from "group" to "faction". 1) How does everyone feel about the change in wording? Is the word "faction" appropriate? 2) As it stands, right now, there is a minor mistake in the paragraph. If the word "faction" is okay by everyone, then word "other" should be added to one of the sentences making it: "The other faction, including urban industrial workers, believed ..." --Wang123 Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 19:35:27 UTC

I don't think "faction" is an appropriate term in the context of the situation and suggest reverting the anon's edits. --Jiang 04:38, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I agree Jiang. I also don't think "faction" is appropriate in this context. I would support changing the wording back to the way it was before. How about the other parts of the recent edit, like the deletion of the last paragraph of the Background section and the addition of the sentence "Both factions were united by their desire to counter corruption in government and state-owned industries, a desire that many members of the Communist Party itself also shared." Should those parts be reverted too? --Wang123 Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 11:07:28 UTC

I reverted. I think those edits were a net loss--Jiang 07:15, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

As a high school student in China, I can state the common point of view of my generation in China on this incident. Though we're only 2 or 3 years old that time, and we almost can't learn anything from the history textbooks or documentary TV programmes, we can still know something because our parents have their own personal idea. Of course this incident was a tragedy, and we're very grateful to the foreign friends who paid their attention on this incident. In our opinion, both sides have done something wrong that make it inevitable to blood bath. But we still believe the social stability is the most important thing. Democratic and liberty cannot be achieved just in a moment, it should have a gradual process. And the world can see that, when the former premier Zhao Ziyang died, there wasn't another Tiananmen Square protest as some foreign editorials had predicted. China still has a lot of problems to deal with and it need all of us to do our best, but the huge development has also taken place in China these years and we're sure we can do better. If some of you have a chance to visit China, maybe their points of view on China will change a lot. Welcome to China! Welcome to my hometown, Shanghai!--Anthony Aragorn 20 Feb 2005


Why is this called a pro-democracy rally? Citizens in China are able to vote. More importantly, the idea that everyone protesting was in agreement on a common goal is ludicrous. Even if we separate Beijing students from Beijing workers, the students were not all in agreement. Usually in these types of protests people no what they're against more than what they're for. And what they were against is the same thing protesters have been against since the French Revolution - a bureaucracy that is perceived to be corrupt. Ruy Lopez 03:56, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Mr. Lopez, the fact that the Mao Dynasty, (like most other criminal regimes) bothers with the farcical exercise of counting votes in elections where standing as an opposition candidate is tantamount to suicide, in no way diminishes the fact that the victims of the Tienanmen Square Massacre were pro-democracy protestors. They differed in their views as to what measures a democratic China should enact, but the reason they were protesting in the first place was that they wanted some actual say over their own lives.
Incidentally, to describe the Red Chinese bureacracy as "corrupt" is like describing the Sturmabteilung as "boisterous". What it is, is a vicious tyranny, which routinely murders people for such "crimes" as holding unapproved opinions.

Could we please stop labelling the Tiananmen Square Protest as "pro-democracy" as this is contentious? Let's remain objective and calm here.

I refer the following book for a more balanced account of the event which considers the framing of Tiananmen through Western-liberal ideologies and a possible media agenda to construct a coherent story of socialist collapse. Democracy certainly existed in the minds of the people but was not necessarily the prime objective of the movement. Rather, corruption of party officials (mentioned above) and excessive growth and inflation (resulting from liberal reforms) are suggested as the main sources of discontent.

Bergere, Marie-Claire (1992) "Tiananmen 1989: Background and Consequences" in Marta Dassu (ed) The Reform Decade in China. New York: Kegan Paul

Saying "pro-democracy" is objective. The protesters were objectively protesting in favor of democracy. --Cyde Weys talkcontribs 03:53, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

I disagree. Fung (1991) argues convincingly that the students' concept of democracy did not necessarily align with Western concept. Democracy in the eyes of the Chinese students was a system of government led by intellectuals rather than corrupt politicians and businessman. However, their vision of democracy did not involve uneducated farmers. They were particularly shocked, when informed by a Western journalist, that not only would the peasant majority be allowed to vote but their large numbers would probably ensure electoral success. Yet this is what democracy, in the universal definition, is: popular vote by *all* citizens.

What the students actually wanted was an honest government. 'Democracy' was a trendy political term gleaned from Western texts and international media which they erroneously used to express this desire. Western journalists latched onto this to score political points against communism.

Edmund Fung (1991), "China in Protest, Spring 1989,” Asian Studies Review, 15, 2 (November), pp. 251-264.


arguable crush

Rachel Corrie seems get little attention.

What does Rachel Corrie have to do with the Tienanmen Square Massacre? She chose to go to a war zone and get in the way of soldiers who were doing their duty. Sucks to be her, but she was hardly an innocent bystander.

XXXXmarcus lepidusXXXX

Nice touch! 'Rachel Corrie in a war zone...getting in the way of soldiers doing their duty'. Wasn't she the human shield run over by Israelis bulldozing Palestinian homes? How is she less "innocent" than those in Tienanmen Square?

Never one to support a dictatorship of either the proletariat or the corporatocracy, I'm no apologist for the anti-democratic leaders of the PRC (I'm a democrat of the syndicalist variety)....but if my 50 year old memory serves me right...weren't the protesters empowered by the thought that the US Cabinet official visiting at the time might somehow shield them from their government's predictable reaction? One can imagine what the reaction of the US government would be if a similar protest took place on the White House lawn during a visit from the Cuban Foreign Minister!

With the doctored pictures of the toppling of Saddam's statue in that Baghdad square and the choreographed montages of the Orange, Yellow, Pink, and (what color is it this week?) Revolutions still whirling in my head, questions about that'lone protestor vs the tank 'picture...and indeed, who was really behind the whole Student Democracy Movement come to mind.

What? You're saying that the examples of people demanding political rights/freedoms were all stage-managed? Ok, why not add that to your list of conspiracies. You can go discuss them with JFK, Elvis and Hitler who are currently being kept in Area 51 to work on the Roswell spaceship :p
Most people that believe the "revolutions" were created by foreign influences are inhabitants of repressive regimes that believe no one can ever willingly desire democracy. The rest are lone political extremists. John Smith's 12:42, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

Disputed Figures

The article says: Estimates of civilian deaths vary: [...] 2,600 (Chinese Red Cross) [...]. Where does that figure from the Chinese Red Cross come from? Babelfisch 13:35, 17 June 2005 (Beijing Time)

What about anti-corruption?

in the very first paragraph, it says the protests were "pro-democracy" and "pro-socialism". Although the "pro-socialism" surely confuses many rightists, I won't disagree with those. But, I have heard Chinese call the protests "anti-corruption", I know this is a delicate article, but anyone think this idea should be included in the opening?

I lived in Beijing for one year (ridden bike home through TianAnMen way late at night many times), will again, and have known many Chinese for much of my life...

I heard more "anti-corruption" than "democracy" from the street protests.--Skyfiler 23:14, August 9, 2005 (UTC)

Chinese version

Can we get a tranlated version of the Chinese Wikipedia article? It won't even display properly for me to get the gist with online translation tools... 04:38, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Lead section

The lead section is much too long. It should be at most two or three paragraphs. --Jiang 04:45, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

I'd agree with that. John Smith's 12:43, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

Confusing Sentences

Does anyone know what the following lines are actually supposed to mean?

Another current in follow-up to the protests was anti-foreigner sentiment, particularly amongst students who believed foreigners were given more rights than native Chinese (see Nanjing Anti-African protests).

"Current in follow-up"?

In Beijing, a majority of students from the city's numerous colleges and universities participated with support of their instructors and other intellectuals.

Participated in what? In the protests? If so, as the first sentence of the paragraph, this should be clarified, since it certainly doesn't lead clearly from the previous paragraph (which ends with the comment on anti-foreigner sentiment). FireWorks 04:37, 19 December 2005 (UTC)


The songs section is awful and cheapens the article. Some songs are not about the protests, such as Karate, which is a mighty funny song, but not for here. Anthrax don't really encapsulate it for me either. Arrested in Shanghai - didn't it happen in Beijing? It's a bit like when anyone does a story on finance and they play Pink Floyd's "Money" in the background. Anyway, someone please back me up on removing this before someone puts "It's hip to be (Tiananmen) Square" on the list.... --Jgritz 08:33, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

I would be willing to support this deletion, as I don't see how they add much to the article. Perhaps a sentance to say that it has inspired songs or whatever - but I don't think we need to have all them listed.
What do other people think? John Smith's 15:11, 21 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Rancid - Arrested In Shanghai - not about Tiananmen Square, only it mentions one line. not notable song -
  • System of a Down - Hypnotize - mentioned in one line. - Chorus is "I'm just sitting in my car and waiting for my girl". good song, but it's not relevant.
  • Roger Waters - Watching TV - About Tiananmen Square, well known artist, but not notable/single.
  • Nevermore - The Tiananmen Man - another un-notable song from a thrash metal band. If anything this is about the tank man, and not the protests.
  • Pidżama Porno - News From Tiananmen from unknown Czech(?) band.
  • Leonard Cohen - Democracy - metioned in one line but the song's chorus is "Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.", it's not about the protests.
  • Tenacious D - Karate - about Karate. On a album just before a song about cock pushups.
  • Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - Forbidden City - not about Tiananmen Square at all, and not mentioned.
  • Anthrax - One Man Stands - may be about the tank man, but it's vague, un-notable, and by a speed metal band who released a fairly racist album under the title S.O.D. three years before this..
  • System of a Down - Hypnotize - sounds familiar, and lets you know something about how carefully the contributors were thinking about their contribution
  • Siouxsie & the Banshees - The Ghost In You - about the protests, but not really notable.
  • Anti-Flag-What's The Differance? - spelt wrong, the song mentions Tiananmen but is about the hypocracy of the WTO and the West, NOT the protests.

Conclusion - delete them all, it's just a token list. Maybe you'd get away with putting the Scorpions (or even the Hoff) on a Berlin Wall article, but nobody from Beijing would listen to these and find them relevant to a 1989 political protest. If anything we should be finding Chinese tunes such as Yi Wu Suo You that were used as anthems by the students. Jgritz 00:02, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Any objections then to deleting the song section? -- Jgritz 05:06, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Pidzama Porno is *Polish* punk band. "News from Tianamen" was written in 1989. Here are lyrics


Should this not be at 1989 Tiananmen Square protests rather than "of 1989"? Compare 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. -- ALoan (Talk) 11:23, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Hu Yaobang as General Secretary of the CPC

This article states that Hu Yaobang was General Secretary from 1981 to 1987, while the articles on the Communist Party of China and on the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China both state that he was General Secretary from 1980 to 1987. This needs to be sorted out. -- gspr 20:59, 10 January 2006 (UTC)


'Zhao Ziyang was ousted from political leadership as a result of his failure to prevent military action.'

This statement makes no sense at all. It is common knowledge that Zhao was removed from all position in the party and put under house arrest because he was sympathetic to the protesters and was viewed as a dangerous element that could be a catalyst for further disturbance. Not because he failed to stop the military. On the contrary, it was his failure to curb the unrest that saw his downfall. 16:09, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

No, it does make sense. He was ousted because it got to the point where it was believed military action was necessary. Perhaps it could be slightly re-worded. John Smith's 18:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I believe it needs to be reworded. The sentence in its current form seem to imply that he was ousted by party liberals for involving the military. Which of course is not the case and does not make sense because the conservative elders were still in control of the government at the time. We now know that it was in fact Deng and the then President Yang Shangkun who ordered the army to take control of the square and enforce Martial Law in Beijing. This was all carried out with the support of Party Elders, without which would have resulted in civil war. (Free Citizen 05:05, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

Sources that wish to remain anonymous should not be quoted.

'A Chinese woman at Tienanmen Square that night, who wishes to remain anonymous, relates that she witnessed several bodies crushed by tanks as well as many more shot, although the soldiers were not entirely willing to carry out the government orders.'

A claim of fact must be credible. A sentence like this has no qualification for entry into an encyclopedic article. 16:11, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

That would depend on if and where this is published. Fred Bauder 16:16, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't know who made the edit, so perhaps we should look into it. If someone can try and find out where that comment was at least made it would be helpful. John Smith's 18:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Unless someone can pinpoint with certainty who that witness is I don't understand how that statement can be regarded as credible. Actual name may be withheld for fear of persecution and a pseudonym used instead. But that isn't enough, the source of that information must be identified. Such as in the case of statements quoted by Chinese Red Cross, we know who that is. However, in this anonymous case, the source will have to be the party that bore witness to that testament. It could be a news correspondent and the name of the agency should be stated. It would be credible if the person who made that statement was one of the leaders of the protesters although readers may have doubts on its accuracy as each side tends to exaggerate or understate the situation. But that is besides the point. An encyclopedic article cannot bear statements where the veracity of the source is in question. Otherwise readers will think a contributor made it up. ( 06:15, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

Since the source of this information cannot be verified, I am moving to remove it. This statement can of course be reinstated when its veracity can be confirmed. (Free Citizen 18:08, 15 January 2006 (UTC)).

With that sentence removed, it lends more authority to the paragraph and the article as a whole. An unverifiable source weakens the report. (Free Citizen 10:11, 16 January 2006 (UTC)).

Detailed description of events has a curious omission.

What about the report that armed police force was dispossessed of their firearms by protesters that led to the killing of some soldiers and policemen. This incident irritated Deng Xiaoping.

( 16:25, 12 January 2006 (UTC)).

That would need evidence. John Smith's 18:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Not necessarily. Even unverified claims can be reported in the news media. The minimum requirement is that the source of that information be stated. And here is one source; This is an address by Deng to the officers who were in command of the troops that enforced Martial Law in Beijing. In the ninth paragraph, Deng commented about law enforces who were robbed of their arms. In the last sentence of that paragraph, he caution the men not to loose their weapons again. ( 06:37, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

Within the city (not in the square) a few soldiers were isolated and killed by the public. These incidents are in the literature. Fred Bauder 13:54, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Since it is related to the incident, don't you think it should be mentioned to give a more complete picture. It was not only peaceful demonstrations but incidents of anarchy too. (Free Citizen 06:50, 17 January 2006 (UTC)).


'The Tiananmen square protests dampened the growing concept of political liberalization that was popular in the late 1980s; as a result, many democratic reforms that took place during the 1980s were rolled back.'

This statement is false. There was never a concept of political liberalization. The party line had all along being steadfast on socialism. There was no policy of democratic reform. The only change brought about by Deng's policy is what is called a socialist form of market economy. In order to achieve this a certain degree of opening up to the outside world is necessary. This is of course in contrast to Mao's closed-door policy. The goal is to raise the standing of China to a moderately developed nation in 50 years.

( 16:47, 12 January 2006 (UTC)).

There was. Zhao Ziyang had a big bust-up with the elders in the Party about it before Tiananmen, when he proposed direct elections for all Party posts from the most minor to the most senior. Zhao was making bold proposals in many areas to do with politics (not just the economy), and he had support of part of the Party. There was even a much greater degree of press freedom and discussion - some people say that things were more "open" then than they are now.
When Zhao was overthrown that "reforming movement" and the "enlightened public discussion" were silenced. John Smith's 18:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Another political reform before 1989 was the attempt to disengage the control of the Party over the governments, which failed completely after 1989. As a result in today's China, there are still 2 sets of officials at ANY administrative units: one is for Party and the other for the Government. And the government officials report to party officials.

That is not entirely correct. Zhao only proposed elections for candidates from the village level up to membership in the Central Committee. The Central Committee which is composed of hundreds of members is a senior position but it can hardly be regarded as 'most' senior. The most senior positions lies with the Politburo which consists of about 20 members. Top leadership lies with the Standing Committee of this Politburo which use to number five but is now up to nine members. Zhao's meteoric rise was largely due to Deng whom he trusted to carry out the reforms the latter had instituted. Zhao never had any meaningful support in the party for greater liberalization. If he had, he could have staged a coup. Unlike the purges of the Cultural Revolution in which many high profile leaders fell including Deng himself, Zhao was the only high profile casualty in this incident. But the main issue here is the 'many democratic reforms that took place during the 1980s'. That didn't happen. ( 07:52, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

Zhao is NOT the only high profile casualty in this incident. For example, Hu Qili, vice-premier at the time, was also forced to step down, not mention numerous provincial & local officials. unsign

I suggest that the sentence be reworded thus, "The Tiananmen square protests dampened the growing concept of political liberalization that was popular in the late 1980s; as a result, many democratic reforms that were proposed during the 1980s were swept under the carpet. (Free Citizen 18:37, 15 January 2006 (UTC)).

If there are no objections, I am moving to edit that passage as proposed. (Free Citizen 06:53, 17 January 2006 (UTC)).

What are the sources of the information in the passage? Also, popular with who? swept under the table by who? Fred Bauder 14:38, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

I didn't write the original passage but isn't it obvious? Popular with the political reformers and swept under the carpet by the authorities I presume. (Free Citizen 19:32, 17 January 2006 (UTC)).

You still don't have a source. You don't identify the political reformers or the authorities. It does not matter that someone else originally put it in. Unsourced material is not acceptable. Fred Bauder 19:47, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

You are right and I haven't got the time to look for it. Do as you see fit. (Free Citizen 10:25, 18 January 2006 (UTC)).

US - EU arms embargo

Since this sub-topic is discussed in such detail, would it not be proper to also discuss about the limited impact of this embargo as China have the option to source military hardware elsewhere. Willing suppliers have been the former Soviet bloc and Israel.

( 17:05, 12 January 2006 (UTC)).

Perhaps. But then again if it is such a trivial problem, why has China expended so much effort to have it lifted? John Smith's 18:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Whether it is a trivial problem or not is not the issue here. It is another matter best left covered elsewhere. There is a substantial treatment being given to point out the after effects of the incident of which the arm embargo by western nations is one. For a balanced view, the limitation of this embargo should also be stated so that readers will have a more complete picture. ( 08:00, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

External links

Links provided is utterly biased towards the protesters. One would fail to see how this featured article adheres to the NPOV policy of this site.

( 17:10, 12 January 2006 (UTC)).

Well there is a significant problem that the CCP refuses to have any debate about the issue, so how could sources from the Chinese government be objective? John Smith's 18:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
They don't have to be objective, just give information from their viewpoint. for example it is claimed by the government that no one was killed in the square itself. There must be some government source for that. Fred Bauder 18:05, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Fred is right, it is not the position of wikipedia to judge if a statement issued by any party is objective or not. That should be left to the readers themselves. Views from all sides should be given fair treatment. That is what makes Britannica and Encarta such authoritative references. They publish facts as it is. Nothing of non importance added, nothing of importance omitted. ( 08:06, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

Thanks to John Smith's for the edit on 'Tiananmen perspective'. (Free Citizen 19:44, 15 January 2006 (UTC)).

Political crisis

Should we have a small section about the political turmoil in the Chinese government over what to do, Zhao's removal from power, etc? There's a bit on his page, but I think we need to have a spot about that here. Currently it does not give a proper reason as why military action was approved. John Smith's 19:01, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Look in The Tiananmen Papers Fred Bauder 19:29, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I know about that, I was just wondering if someone might like to describe it. John Smith's 19:43, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
If you will look back in the page history a couple of years to when I was actively editing I think you would find it. Fred Bauder 19:56, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

The turmoil is only on the ground. There was no political turmoil. The only confrontation being Zhao as the lone dissenter and the view of senior party members who were alarmed by Zhao's liberal leanings. Is it any surprise that he was removed? ( 08:20, 13 January 2006 (UTC)).

You oversimplify. The Chinese leaders put on a brave and united front after they had decided what to do, but were torn by both idealistic and practical considerations which were not easily reconciled. The protests created difficult problems which they solved as well as they could, but to imagine that they did not both sympathize with the idealism of the students and fear a dissolution of the government in the same way it was happening in Eastern Europe it to imagine them not human. After all, they are revolutionaries, Marxists and ultimately humanists. The Tiananmen Papers contains material which has insight into these phenomena. Fred Bauder 14:39, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually my original language remains mostly intact:

The Standing Committee of the Politburo, along with the Party elders (retired but still-influential former officials of the government and Party), were, at first, hopeful that the demonstrations would be short-lived or that cosmetic reforms and investigations would satisfy the protesters. They wished to avoid violence if possible, and relied at first on their far-reaching Party apparatus in attempts to persuade the students to abandon the protest and return to their studies. One barrier to effective action was that the leadership itself supported many of the demands of the students, especially the concern with corruption. However, one large problem was that the protests contained many people with varying agendas, and hence it was unclear with whom the government could negotiate, and what the demands of the protesters were. The confusion and indecision among the protesters was also mirrored by confusion and indecision within the government. The official media mirrored this indecision as headlines in the People's Daily alternated between sympathy with the demonstrators and denouncing them.

It could be more explicit in terms of personalities and issues, but in my opinion sufficiently expresses the internal political crisis, such as it was. I don't think giving up power to the Chinese electorate was considered. Fred Bauder 14:57, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

This composition is good. Put it in. (Free Citizen 20:52, 15 January 2006 (UTC)).

Comment from various leaders

This is pasted from the edits Free Citizen made. They're fairly pro-China, and should be discussed on whether to include them here.

"...I knew Deng Xiaoping was right. I have not changed my mind. There are more than 300 cities in China. When you have that kind of wildfire, you either stamp it out quickly or you are burnt out yourself. ...You have to remember that this is China. When you attack the emperor, that's it. He paid in blood for the right to govern." —Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew in an interview at the 2001 World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland

"Deng [Xiaoping] asked Henry [Kissinger] why we were so shocked over Tiananmen. When the Cultural Revolution was going on when we opened relations with the PRC. He pointed out that surely that was much worse. He had a point." (Edited for clarity)—Former First Lady Barbara Bush relating a November 1989 dinner conversation with Henry Kissinger who had just returned from China. In Barbara Bush: A Memoir. New York: Lisa Drew Books, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994.

"How the GPRC [Government of the People's Republic of China] decides to deal with those of its citizens involved in recent events in China is, of course, an internal affair. How the USG [United States of America government] and the American people view that activity is, equally, an internal affair. Both will be governed by the traditions, culture, and values peculiar to each." —Declassified USA State Department document entitled "Themes" dated June 29, 1989.

There is absolutely nothing wrong about statements that are pro-China as there is absolutely nothing wrong with statements that are anti-China or critical of China. These are quotations made by eminent people and they serve notes of interest to those who care to read them. Readers may have their own biases, that is their right. An encyclopedic entry does not care which way readers may perceive information. Only that the statements are not false or fabricated. If there are no more convincing argument, that edit should stay. BTW, the last statement by the USA State Department is rather balanced. (Free Citizen 08:05, 14 January 2006 (UTC)).

These opinions are what is to be expected from those three sources. They round out the spectrum of world public opinion. Fred Bauder 14:27, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
This paragraph is directly copied and pasted from which may be a copyright violation. It also happens to be the link Free Citizen is insistant on including, which includes lines such as "no evidence anyone died in Tiananmen Square.". If anything this link needs to be framed with some context. --Jgritz 21:42, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
A site with a rather apologetic point of view Fred Bauder 22:04, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

What is copyright and what constitute fair use in this case? Copyright literally means the right to copy an original creation. Let us consider if those quotations are the original work of the author of that article. He is merely quoting what other parties said, nothing more. If there was interpretations of what that means then those interpretations would constitute his original work. However, there were none. Those quotations could have been obtained from a number of places but it so happens in this case, they conveniently came through (The fact that it was taken from that site is also why I included a link to its site that someone repeatedly removes). Now, if the whole article or part of it that contains original writings of the author were copied en bloc and without permission, that would be in violation of copyright. I believe this is not the case here. But to be sure the author of that article have no objection, I will be writing to him. Until then, its inclusion should stay. Someone has taken the liberty to change the sub-title that was neutral in tone to that of 'Comments in Defense of the Government'. It puzzles me why this person would do that. By doing so, the editor have limited the sub-topic to being just that. Personally I would have no objection to 'Comments by World Leaders and Government Departments.' This would open the section for further addition of comments disparaging the Chinese government. I am sure there are plenty as the Group of Seven have imposed sanctions on the Chinese, though the right to do that is moot. China bashers can then have a field day. Moving to the basis for the removal of the link, it is untenable. The author is merely stating what the Chinese government quoted and what the bureau chief of the Washington Post said. Moreover, the very same statements already appears on the second paragraph of The Crackdown here. I am moving to reinstate that link. Again, an encyclopedic reference does not form opinions or make interpretations. All points of views should be fairly represented. Let the readers be the judge and jury. (Free Citizen 16:31, 15 January 2006 (UTC)).

The comments can be quoted, that would be fair use, although it would be good to go back to the original sources, rather then use that sinomania site which has a strong apologetic point of view. However as they compiled the three quotations, to avoid plagiarism you will have to mention them. But look for the original sources for those three quotes and give them too. I don't consider any of the three quotes as pro-Chinese anyway, just expressions of practical reactions to the situation. Fred Bauder 19:17, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

The original source for the second quote is stated. An external link for the source of the third quote is also provided. However, I have not been able to locate the original source of the first quote. I am waiting for an answer from But here is another quote made by the Senior Minister in another interview; FZ: Is the Chinese regime stable? Is the growth that's going on there sustainable? Is the balancing act between economic reform and political control that Deng Xiaoping is trying to keep going sustainable after his death? LKY: The regime in Beijing is more stable than any alternative government that can be formed in China. Let us assume that the students had carried the day at Tiananmen and they had formed a government. The same students who were at Tiananmen went to France and America. They've been quarreling with each other ever since. What kind of China would they have today? Something worse than the Soviet Union. China is a vast, disparate country; there is no alternative to strong central power. Source: Culture Is Destiny; A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew We could use this instead. (Free Citizen 20:41, 15 January 2006 (UTC)).

Right, the fascist view is important Fred Bauder 21:48, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, to the liberals he is a Fascist and there are more liberals in Singapore than most people think there are. Yet, overwhelming electorate repeatedly vote him and his party in as government. His achievement in elevating the city state as a developed country wins him many admirers among World Leaders. Personally, I don't know what to make of him but he does commands much respect in the international arena. His quotes will be of interest to many readers. (Free Citizen 09:18, 16 January 2006 (UTC)).

Peking and Beijing

This is just a trifling issue, but by 1989 the PRC had adopted Pinyin as their anglicised script. As such, Peking should be changed to Beijing in all references to the government, and the city. There are 2 references to Peking which should be changed to "Beijing".

I concur. Why don't you do it?

Done. I was a little bit concerned about making an edit on such a contentious page, that I thought I'd post it here first, to see if perhaps I was wrong. Thanks.

Relationship of Goddess of Democracy to Statue of Liberty

I removed the reference to the Statue of Liberty in the caption to the image of the Goddess of Democracy. An account of the construction of the Goddess of Democracy by a sculptor present explicitly states that the students chose not to model their creation on the Statue of Liberty. See my fix to the Goddess of Democracy page for a more full explanation and a citation. Sigrid 01:04, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

New format

Whoever did that deserves a pat on the back! John Smith's 23:04, 31 January 2006 (UTC)