Siteseen Logo

Tiananmen Square Massacre

George H Bush

Tiananmen Square Massacre: George H Bush was the 41st American President who served in office from January 20, 1989 to January 20, 2001. One of the important events during his presidency was the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Definition and Summary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre
Summary and definition:
The Tiananmen Square Massacre took place on June 4, 1989, when Chinese troops stormed through Tiananmen Square, in the center of the Chinese capital of Beijing, firing indiscriminately into the crowds and killing hundreds of pro-democracy protesters.

Thousands more of the protestors, consisting of students and workers, were arrested.

Many of the arrests resulted in executions as the protestors were sentenced to death. The savagery of the Tiananmen Square Massacre shocked the world. The U.S. Congress and several European countries reduced their diplomatic relations with China and imposed economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China in response to the brutal violation of human rights.

Facts about Tiananmen Square Massacre
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Tiananmen Square is located in central Beijing, China and is the world's largest public square. The massive plaza is adjacent to the Forbidden City, the ancient palace of the emperors of China, and has traditionally been the site of festivals, demonstrations and rallies

China and the Soviet Union were the two largest communist states in the world. Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) to prevent the development of Russian-style bureaucratic communism of the USSR and resulted in one of the reasons for the decline in Sino-Soviet relations.

1989 was a significant year for protests and demonstrations against strict communist regimes. In the USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev began to reform the Soviet system by the democratization of the Communist Party and allowing Glasnost (freedom of speech) which ultimately led to the Collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

On May, 15 1989, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev made a four day visit to the People's Republic of China to seal the reconciliation of the two powers. The Soviet leader's visit was almost immediately disrupted by China's internal unrest and his planned welcoming party was hastily relocated from Tiananmen Square which was full of pro-democracy protesters.

Many of the Chinese students had seen the visit of President Gorbachev as a symbol of political liberalization and wanted the Chinese government to adopt the more liberal policies that had been introduced by the USSR

The Communist leaders in China rejected the idea of adopting the Soviet policies of perestroika and glasnost. They were determined to retain power and although the government had relaxed their controls on the economy the Communist hard-liners continued to repress freedom of speech and political dissent.

The protests, hunger strikes and demonstrations for democracy of the students and workers continued in many other major cities in China and in the capital's Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The protestors viewed democracy as a solution to the increasing corruption in the Chinese government.

The Chinese government were incensed when the protesters erected a 30-foot plaster statue of the “Goddess of Democracy” based on the Statue of Liberty as a symbolic monument to commitment to Enlightenment ideals and the pro-democracy movement.

The demonstrations in Tiananmen Square had begun been a month earlier on April 22nd, 1989, when over 100,000 people gathered in Tiananmen Square for the memorial service of Hu Yaobang (November 20, 1915 – April 15, 1989).

Hu Yaobang had been greatly respected as a progressive leader who had been a symbol of political reform before he was forced out of office three years before his death.

At the end of April and throughout the month of  May 1989, at least 100,000 students and workers occupied Tiananmen Square  for one month and the protestors also began distributing several documents defining their movement's principles, including a constitution and the Tiananmen Square Declaration of Human Rights.

The constitution detailed provisions for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of demonstration and criticism of the government.

Deng Xiaoping, the most powerful and ruthless of Chinese communist leaders, made the decision to declare martial law on May 20, 1989 and send the fully armed People’s Liberation Army into the city. After numerous threats, Deng Xiaoping ordered the military to clear Tiananmen Square with force on June 4, 1979

Overnight on June 3 - 4, 1989 more than 50 trucks and tanks, with as many as 10,000 troops, rumbled into the streets of Beijing towards Tiananmen Square.

The Tiananmen Square Massacre began on June 4, 1989. As they approached the demonstrators, troops opened fire on crowds of peaceful protesters and onlookers. They gave no warning before they started the indiscriminate shooting with assault rifles and bayonets.

There was disbelief at the level of violence and as crowds tried to run from the troops many were shot in the back. Other people were crushed to death by tanks and military vehicles.

A tank mowed down the 30-foot statue of the “Goddess of Democracy” as the Tiananmen Square Massacre turned into a bloodbath.

Tank Man: The Tiananmen Square Massacre was immortalized by the image of a courageous lone man in a white shirt, carrying shopping bags, facing a terrifying column of military tanks. The man is known simply as Tank Man and his identity has never been confirmed.

Tank Man would not let the tanks pass but was eventually pulled out of danger by horrified onlookers. The image of unarmed man standing in front of a massive tank came to symbolize the struggle of the Tiananmen Square protesters as a peaceful protest met with military might.

As the bloody massacres continued troops were seen putting dead people into plastic body bags. Thousands more people were arested and dragged away by the troops.

The Chinese authorities have never disclosed the total number of people killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Nor have they disclosed the number of people who were detained, tried or executed following the massacre.

The sheer savagery and brutal violence of the Tiananmen Square Massacre shocked the world.

The U.S. Congress and several European countries reduced their diplomatic relations with China and imposed economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China in response to the vicious, indiscriminate violation of human rights.

US American History
1990 - Present: The Modern Era

ⓒ 2017 Siteseen Limited

First Published

Cookies Policy


Updated 2018-01-01

Publisher Siteseen Limited

Privacy Statement