Tiananemn Square Incident


Death of Hu Yaobang

April 15, 1989

Beijing University students gather around the Heroes' monument in Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, who had stepped down from his position as General Secretary, because of issues regarding his more liberal approach to politics.


Students take charge

April 18, 1989

Thousands of mourning students march through the capital to Tiananmen Square, calling for a more democratic government. In the weeks that follow, thousands of people join the students in the square to protest against China's Communist rulers.

First Party Leadership Meeting

April 25, 1989

Thousands of students march through the capital to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, but also to call for a more democratic government. Once the students begin to conflict with the guards blocking the entrance of the Zhongnanhai compound, they are advised that their protests would no longer be allowed.

The "People's Daily" Editorial

April 26, 1989

The students have been raising disturbance for ten days straight, and they've have been open to new behavior and steady and they want to confuse the people and throw the country into chaos.


Students begin hunger strike

May 13, 1989

The students who decide to go on a hunger strike to prove their loyalty to their cause are supported by citizens of Beijing who bring them food and water to keep them from losing their health.


"Trend in the Tiananmen Square" Fax

May 13, 1989

The People's Daily publishes an editorial accusing protestors of plotting to create turmoil aimed at overthrowing the communist regime.

Students Occupation of Tiananmen Square

May 15, 1989

100,000 workers and students gather again to grieve their demands for more democracy and less corruption.

Elders decide on Martial Law and Li Peng meets with students

May 18, 1989

Li Peng met with students, and stated that no one had claimed that the majority of the students had created a great disturbance, but that it had been created. In response, a student leader stated that "The only way to get the students out of the square would be to classify their actions as patriotic and televise student leader speeches and interviews."

Zhao Ziyang begs for the end of hunger strike

May 19, 1989

In an attempt to end the protestors, and knowing his time as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China was coming to an end, Secretary Zhao Ziyang stated: "We demonstrated and lay across railroad tracks when we were young, too, and took no thought for the future. But I have to ask you to think carefully about the future. Many issues will be resolved eventually. I beg you to end the hunger strike."

Blockades set up by protestors

May 21, 1989

According to a cable sent from the US embassy in Beijing, the army was met with a system of blockades which allowed the students to control central Beijing. Buses were turned sideways to form roadblocks. An anonymous caller reached the US consulate in Shenyang and threatened to lead a general workers to strike unless the students were treated with more respect.

Elders meet and decide to clear Tiananmen square

June 2, 1989

In this meeting, Prime Minister Li Peng stated that “The reactionary elements believe the government will eventually crack down if they refuse to withdraw from the square. Their plot is to provoke conflict and create bloodshed incidents, clamoring that ‘blood will awaken the people and cause the government to split and collapse."

Chinese military perspective on beginning of Incident

June 3, 1989

During this meeting, President Yang Shangkun stated that: “The situation has become extremely uncomfortable and that this was beyond what anybody’s goodwill can handle” and said “Solve the problem before dawn tomorrow." He means our martial law troops should completely finish their task of clearing the Square before sunup.

US perspective on the day of the Incident

June 4, 1989

Tens of thousands of Chinese troops take the center of the capital. Students and workers are killed, hundreds of students and workers are even more wounded. Casualty reports unclear: Beijing hospitals reported receiving 68 corpses, four other hospitals refused to disclose their numbers and most students say at least 500 people are killed from the Incident.

Tank Man Shows Courage

June 5, 1989

The morning after the Chinese military had forcibly put an end to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. As the front tank of the column of tanks tried to maneuver pass the unknown man, he repeatedly shifted his position in order to obstruct the tank's attempted path around unknown man. More than 27 years after the incident, there were no reliable information about the identity or fate of the man who stood in front of a column of tanks.

  1. https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-06-05/25-years-later-tank-man-lives-outside-china-potent-symbol-courage-and-bravery

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq8zFLIftGk

  3. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ebMFniWdTT_YFvaddHWmDw97uBlg2bwy3VW6U5BQHpU/edit#slide=id.g217d4bfc97_0_277