17 May 2007

Chinese history you won't hear about in China

"The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4th Incident, or the Political Turmoil between Spring and Summer of 1989 by the government of the People's Republic of China, were a series of demonstrations led by students, intellectuals and labour activists in the People's Republic of China between April 15, 1989 and June 4, 1989. The demonstrations centred on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but large scale protests also occured in cities throughout China, such as in Shanghai.

In Beijing, the resulting crackdown on the protestors by the PRC government left many civilians dead, the figure ranging from 200–300 (PRC government figures), to 2,000–3,000 (Chinese student associations and Chinese Red Cross), although the PRC government asserts and most independent observers agree that these deaths were not in the square itself but rather in the streets leading to the square. [1]

The protestors came from disparate groups, ranging from intellectuals who believed the Communist Party of China-led government was too corrupt and repressive, to urban workers who believed Chinese economic reform had gone too far and that the resulting rampant inflation and widespread unemployment was threatening their livelihoods.

After the protestors defied government calls to disperse, a split emerged within the Communist Party of China on how to respond to the protestors. Out of the party turmoil, a hardline faction emerged and the decision was made to quell the protests, rather than to heed their demands. [2]

On May 20, the government declared martial law and, on the night of June 3 and the early morning of June 4, army tanks and infantry were sent into Tiananmen Square to crush the protest and disperse the protestors. Estimates of civilian deaths vary: 23 (Communist Party of China), 400–800 (Central Intelligence Agency), 2600 (Chinese Red Cross). Injuries are generally held to have numbered from 7,000 to 10,000. Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests to suppress the remaining supporters of the movement, banned the foreign press and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the PRC press. The violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protest caused widespread international condemnation of the PRC government."

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