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© 1995, Long Bow Group Inc. All Rights Reserved.
On the night of June 3rd 1989, tanks and armored vehicles of
the People's Liberation Army moved into Beijing and put an end to
seven weeks of peaceful protest.
WANG DAN - Student
After the shooting on the night of June 3rd, when I found out
that so many people had died, I felt neither anger nor sorrow -
nothing. I was completely numb, there was a huge emptiness. I
just couldn't believe they would open fire.
DING ZILIN - Professor
In the first few days after my son was killed, many friends,
colleagues and students came to express their sympathy. They all
said that soon the official verdict would be overturned.
But as investigations and arrests began, fewer and fewer people came to see me. When people ran into me, they were silent. It was as though nothing had ever happened.
Events do not deliver their meanings to us. They are always
On the morning of June 5th, there was a moment that would come
to symbolize the hope and the tragedy of those spring days.
MAN FACING THE COLUMN OF TANKS
He disappeared into the crowd afterwards, and no one knows where he is now. No one is even certain of his name.
But for the millions who saw this scene all over the world its
meaning was clear: Here was human hope and courage challenging
the remorseless machinery of state power.
The Chinese government interpreted the scene just as simply,
Anyone with common sense can see that if our tanks were determined to move on, this lone scoundrel could never have stopped them. This scene recorded on videotape flies in the face of Western propaganda. It proves that our soldiers exercised the highest degree of restraint.
In the days after the end of the protest at Tiananmen, large
numbers of people were arrested all over China.
HAN DONGFANG - Worker
I heard the government's "most wanted list" on the radio. At
first it seemed only students were on the list, but I finally
heard my own name.
I couldn't stand the humiliation of being hunted down by the
police. I wanted to maintain as much dignity as possible while
facing the inevitable. So I decided to go to the police on my
I told the police, "I've come here because you've got your
facts wrong. I don't know if it's deliberate or because you don't
understand what really happened. Since I was involved I feel it's
my duty to straighten you out."
When individuals stand up to power, they bring to the
encounter the lessons that power has taught them, and the harm it
has done them. Merely to stand up does not free us from these
Behind every gesture of hope and courage lies a life, a
society, a history.
Tiananmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, is the gate leading
into the Imperial City, for centuries the center of power in
In 1919, though the Emperor had long been overthrown, students
gathered at Tiananmen to denounce the government's failure to
stand up to the foreign powers.
Their protest spread quickly through the country and came to
be known as the May 4th Movement. Years of student demonstrations
Despite violent government repression, arrests, and killings,
generation after generation the students came out to protest,
inspiring other Chinese to follow them.
China was in danger, and corrupt officials didn't care. Young
intellectuals felt they must place their lives on the line to
awaken the people. They aimed to save the nation through
democracy and modern science, and the discarding of oppressive
1949 ARMY ON THE MARCH
When the great change did come, it came from the countryside
-- a peasant army led in part by people who had participated in
the student protests.
Mao Zedong's Communist army entered Beijing in 1949. National
power returned to the city.
And to Tiananmen.
The traditional rulers of China had always remained hidden
behind the closed gates of the Imperial City. When Mao appeared
before the people atop Tiananmen, he reversed centuries of
The center of power was visibly shifted, from the Imperial
City behind the gate to the broad masses in front -- all facing
the leader, who stood above.
GE YANG - Former government official
Before the founding ceremonies of the People's Republic of
China in 1949, Tiananmen Square was full of weeds as high as your
waist. Students from Beijing and Qinghua Universities volunteered
to clear away all the weeds. Yes, it was students then too. At
that time, young people were very enthusiastic about the People's
Liberation Army, and about the revolution.
It was at Tiananmen that the People's Republic of China was
founded. It was at Tiananmen that Mao announced, "The Chinese
people have stood up."
MAO, October 1949:
The central government of the People's Republic of China is hereby established!
DAI QING - Writer
When I was a child, I went to Tiananmen twice a year for the
parades. Mao stood on Tiananmen Gate. After the parade had
passed, a huge crowd of children would rush up to the Gate,
shouting joyfully. No words, just the sound of children's voices.
This created the desired effect.
I was one of those children. I would wave flowers or release
balloons or doves. Mao would wave his hand like this.
At that time, many Communist leaders moved into quarters
within the old imperial city. Before, they had lived with the
peasants, and it was said, "Fish cannot live out of water." But
after the Revolution if a peasant went into the city to look up a
leader he had known in the past, he wouldn't be able to find
him--the water could no longer find the fish; the fish were
inside the Palace.
And Mao himself became in effect the Emperor, hailed as a man
who would live forever.
Of course, I was unable to see it like this in the 1950's.
BUILDING TIANANMEN SQUARE
In the 1950's the Government ordered the building of a great
square in front of Tiananmen to accommodate the Masses.
Several of China's later leaders first came to prominence as
dedicated model workers in the building of the Square.
The gigantic Square would become the largest public space in
the world, and the center of Chinese political life. On one side
of it was built a Great Hall of the People, on the other a Museum
of History and the Revolution.
In the center of the Square stood the monument commemorating
the martyrs of the Revolution. A tombstone of the great dead
which consecrates the Square as sacred ground.
The monument depicts scenes from China's history since 1840.
There are no recognizable individuals; collectively, they
represent the people.
Among the ancestors of new China pictured on the monument are
the students of May 4, 1919, protesting before the Gate itself.
When the students of 1989 occupied Tiananmen Square, they made
their headquarters here, beneath images of other students who
changed China's history. They were consciously associating
themselves with the tradition of student protest in China. By
their own actions, they were adding further meaning to this
place: the place in all of China most charged with meaning.
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
Good morning, beloved Peking.
Good morning, beloved Tiananmen, Gate of Heavenly Peace.
In Mao's era Tiananmen became the symbol of the new China. The Gate and the Square: the people, and the leader who expressed the people's will.
Tiananmen had once led into the Imperial Palace. Now it was
the focus of Mao's Square.
Mao and Tiananmen were one.
Tiananmen Square became completely entangled with the lives of
the Chinese people. This was because under the Communist Party,
everyone's life became involved with politics.
When I graduated from university in 1966, I sincerely believed
what I was taught, that I was a brand new bolt to be used in the
construction of the great mansion of Communism. I was willing to
be put wherever my country needed me, and I was prepared to stay
in place my whole life.
To me, Mao was like God. I believed that he was not only the
great leader of the Chinese people, but also the great leader of
people throughout the world. I feared the day when he would no
longer be with us. I really hoped there'd be a scientific
breakthrough that'd enable young people like us to give up
voluntarily a year of our own lives, to add a minute to his. That
way the world would be saved.
In 1976, Mao died between an earthquake and a solar eclipse:
traditional portents of the end of an era.
At the funeral the great throng faced Tiananmen, but the place
where Mao had often stood was empty. All the leaders remained on
a platform below.
Mao still resides in the Square.
The mausoleum built in 1977 at the south end of the Square is
not a tomb so much as a grand villa. It contains a huge marble
armchair for the Chairman.
And a bed too where he lies.
I didn't shed a single tear when Mao died. I felt I'd been
cheated. I've never visited the Mao mausoleum. It is so
Mao is dead but not gone.
The great portrait that hangs on Tiananmen still presides over
every parade and celebration held in the great Square.
During the student demonstrations of 1989 three men from Mao's
own home province of Hunan splattered the great portrait with
ink. The students immediately distanced themselves from this act.
They denounced the outrage, and helped arrest the men
Shortly after the desecration, gale force winds blew and
torrents of rain fell on the Square.
Some people actually wondered: was the Chairman displeased?
Within hours the portrait was replaced.
But it is not only Mao's face: his vision of history, his
language, his actions, still loom large in China's imagination.
Communism is actually a promise of something perfect. It is
easy for people who are dissatisfied with all the imperfections
of real life to be attracted to it. During the 1930's and 40's,
many people were drawn to the Communist Party because they wanted
to escape the ugly reality, and they longed for the promise.
Throughout the first decade of the revolution, that promise
had the support of large segments of society.
Mao provided the vision of an ideal society, but he had little
interest in the day to day work of bringing it about. That was
left to his associates. Among them was Deng Xiaoping.
Mao had the personality of a romantic poet. Deng's is that of
a pragmatist. He is not a puritanical theoretician or an
idealist. He is different from Mao in that he knows that when
people are hungry they need to eat. They can't live on poetry.
During the 1950's, Mao launched wave after wave of
persecutions against people who held different views. By 1959, no
one dared express any dissenting opinions any more. He had to
have the last word on everything. And people would have tolerated
it if his policies had worked out well. But he made a mess of
things. Millions of people starved to death. So his comrades had
to help patch things up. This meant a slight retreat from Mao's
Deng liked to quote a Sichuan proverb: "It doesn't matter
whether a cat is black or white; if it catches mice, it's a good
But Mao's solution, when things went wrong, was always more
revolution, not less. He saw anyone who stood between him and his
masses as an enemy. He saw bureaucrats and lingering bourgeois
elements undermining the original promise of the revolution.
Against the government bureaucracy, Mao mobilized his masses:
A fresh uprising of the people, the only source of progress. Mao
called it a cultural revolution.
The people were enjoying
, mass democracy. "Chaos can't harm us," he proclaimed. "It can
only harm our enemies."
Mao lost control of the Cultural Revolution. It became a war
of all against all.
Deng Xiaoping was among those attacked. Mao stripped him of
his power, then later brought him back to repair a shattered
Like those in power who had experienced Mao's mass democracy,
Deng Xiaoping's greatest fear would be
: turmoil, chaos, upheaval.
When the students of 1989 took to the streets, they too were
branded as stirring up
. Many leaders in the government saw them in the light of the
past; they were a throwback to the horrors of the Cultural
Revolution that had nearly destroyed China.
At the end of the Cultural Revolution the Chinese economy was
on the verge of bankruptcy. What could be done? Now here's where
Deng Xiaoping was really smart. His prescription was capitalism
-- reform and opening up actually meant learning from capitalism.
But he couldn't say that outright, because capitalism was
supposed to be our arch enemy.
Now how could you turn around and learn from our enemy? So
Deng came up with something called "Socialism with Chinese
He followed his instincts. First and foremost, the people
didn't have enough to eat; they had to be fed. Secondly, people
who had been politically wronged had to be exonerated. These were
very practical things. Little did he know what tremendous changes
would be triggered once this process began.
It was deep winter, 1979, when a thaw began to be felt.
A stretch of bare wall near the city center became a place
where people posted their hopes and fears about the new China.
There were a dozen unofficial journals too, and new voices heard.
A young man named Wei Jingsheng wrote a poster: what China
needed was more than the "Four Modernizations" the government was
promoting, in agriculture, industry, science, and defense. China
needed a fifth modernization: democracy.
Democracy wasn't the result of progress, Wei Jingsheng argued,
it was a pre-condition for progress.
Meanwhile Deng Xiaoping was on the road.
Apparently moving away from Communist ideology, Deng was
welcomed in America. Time Magazine named him "Man of the Year."
In the US, China's economic reforms were greeted with enthusiasm.
DENG AT KENNEDY CENTER
KENNEDY CENTER ANNOUNCER
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, and his Excellency, Deng Xiaoping, the Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
"Rocky Mountain High, Rocky Mountain High."
Mr. Vice-Premier, it is with great joy that we welcome you to our country, and it is with true love that we extend our very best wishes to you and your people, on your "New Long March Toward Modernization In This Century."
I thank you very much. Huitoujian .
Deng Xiaoping went to America, and soon after, Hope came to
BOB HOPE ON THE GREAT WALL
Hey we're off on the road to China, with fun and adventure in mind.
The Seventh Wonder of the World is here beneath our feet,
Compared to this the road to Mandelay is obsolete.
BOB HOPE ON TIANANMEN SQUARE
Hey, this is it, Peking, China. Amazing isn't it? Just 10 years ago who would've dreamt an American comedian would be standing here in Tiananmen Square, saying whatever he pleased and photographing anything he pleased. But in this fast-moving world, radical changes can occur overnight.
Take a look at this Square, almost a hundred acres. Looks like Jackie Gleason's patio. Now they can get a million and a half people in here. Of course they're not here today -- nobody knew I was coming.
Americans felt an enormous relief: the Chinese are, after all,
just like us. They want what we want, and maybe we can sell it to
WEI JINGSHENG TRIAL
But even as China and the U.S. swapped celebrities and made
deals, the dark gates closed on others.
For his warning that Deng might become a new dictator, Wei
Jingsheng was framed and sentenced to fifteen years.
He was still in prison when the students came to Tiananmen in
1989 to demand democracy.
Few of them knew his story.
WU GUOGUANG - Former government official
In China, if you wanted to express your opinions you had to
speak from within the Communist Party. If you talked outside
they'd throw you in jail.
The only option for a pure idealist is to commit suicide. I
once wrote an essay entitled, "Commit suicide and save the
country." Of course it didn't pass the censors.
I'd completely lost faith in the Communist Party. I thought
the only workable thing is trying to join up and change it.
Committing suicide myself wouldn't do the country much good. A
more useful thing to do was to help the Communist Party commit
suicide. Lenin had taught us that the easiest way to take a
fortress is from within. There's also the Trojan horse in ancient
Greece. If you can't win through confrontation, you have to try
sneaking inside. That someone like myself could join the Party
was because cracks had already appeared. Before Deng's reforms,
someone like me would never have been let in.
1984 NATIONAL DAY PARADE
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
Now begins the grand mass parade to celebrate the 35th anniversary for the founding of the People's Republic of China.
By 1984, when the People's Republic marked its 35th
Anniversary, there was something new to celebrate -- the success
of Deng Xiaoping's reforms.
Once, Deng had been purged by Mao for his disobedience.
Now Deng was no longer under the Great Teacher's shadow. He could make his own plans, and he had the power to execute them. He would be called the Grand Architect of reform.
By Deng's side were his loyal ministers, Hu Yaobang, Zhao
Ziyang: men given the task of reform -- men who could also be
blamed when reform went too far.
Some students in the parade raised a homemade banner greeting
Deng by his first name: "Hello, Xiaoping!" -- an unheard-of
People were genuinely grateful to Deng.
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
China's industry is advancing toward modernization. Like agriculture it will soon be carried forward on the wave of reform.
The early reforms brought quick and dramatic change.
In the countryside, communes were broken up. Rural markets
Farmers started to make money. There was a lot more money to
The old men in charge were changing China. The results were
going to be seen everywhere.
After decades of relative isolation, China was looking outward
to the world.
Just ahead, all the enticements of capitalism beckoned.
RETURN TO PARADE
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
Our life is getting better and better. The light industry float shows how life is becoming more colorful as our living standards rise.
The National Day celebrations in 1984 were an elaborate,
enthusiastic affair. Many people saw a bright future ahead.
But why did my friends and I feel so depressed? The overcast
sky, the lone figure of Deng Xiaoping popping out of that car,
riding stern-faced down Chang'an Avenue: I thought it all boded
ill for the future. That kind of spectacle was the heritage of
the Mao era. It was an embodiment of revolution. And for us,
revolution was made up of a small number of ambitious political
careerists on the one hand and the frenzied masses on the other.
And we were fed up with all that.
A measure of economic prosperity had been achieved by 1984,
but we saw countless difficulties ahead, and we didn't know how
heavy a price the Chinese people might still have to pay. All I
could do was to help change things bit by bit. I knew I couldn't
make that much difference, but that didn't matter, because there
was nothing else worth doing anyway.
'84 NATIONAL DAY NIGHT CELEBRATIONS, FIREWORKS
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
Singing and dancing, a million and a half people in the capital attended the grand National Day evening carnival. The carnival evening will forever remain in our memory. Come to see Tiananmen, come to see our country in five years time!
FIVE YEARS LATER: 1989
GUNSHOTS, FIRE BURNING BEFORE TIANANMEN GATE
Petitioning the government is common enough in every country. It doesn't necessarily result in death -- except, of course, in China.
Lu Xun, 1926
On May 28, 1989, a student leader named Chai Ling requested an
interview with an American journalist.
Tiananmen Square was then occupied by students for weeks.
Martial law had been declared. No one knew what might happen.
The interview was recorded with a home video camera.
CHAI LING - Student
These may be my last words. Because the situation is becoming
very grim. My name is Chai Ling. I am 23 years old. Oddly enough,
my birthday is on April 15, the day Hu Yaobang died.
Hu Yaobang had been the General Secretary of the Party and
Deng Xiaoping's chosen successor.
Public mourning for Hu would last for a week, and would become
the ground from which all the demonstrations of 1989 would grow.
In many ways the movement is not very mature. An opportunity
presented itself accidentally. No one knew Hu Yaobang was going
to die when he did.
This movement is a great manifestation of the natural
democratic instincts of the students and the people, a
spontaneous expression of the people's own interests. I've come
into contact with people from all walks of life. They feel they
have no security. Many have gone overseas. I feel this country is
finished! It's going to die!
Hu Yaobang had been removed from power two years before his
death. He had been accused of leaning toward bourgeois
No one protested openly when Hu was purged. But now people
claimed him as a champion of enlightened rule.
Mourning for him became a cover for protest against those
still in power -- or as it was said at the time: "The men who
should drop dead are still alive; yet the man who should be alive
FENG CONGDE - Student
In Chinese culture, there's a phenomenon I'd call the cult of
the dead. After death, all the man's flaws are forgotten and his
memory is enshrined in a halo of glory. Then people use the dead
man to vent their anger and express their hopes.
It was clear to me that people weren't simply concerned with
one man's death. Hu Yaobang's death made it possible for a crowd
to gather in a public place, and gave them something to discuss.
And that led to discussions of all kinds of other issues. Most of
the talk was about our own lives.
ZHAO HONGLIANG - Worker
My parents kept saying, "In the past although wages were low,
it was easy to raise you three children. How come these days,
even with you holding a job, we're always short of money?"
Deng Xiaoping's reforms, which had been so popular, were
disappointing a lot of people by the end of the 80's.
Workers could no longer count on life-long employment, the
iron rice bowl, and the socialist safety net of medical benefits
and pensions was being dismantled.
Factories had trouble paying their workers, so they kicked out
a bunch of people. But they didn't use the word "fire." They
called it "re-prioritizing the work force." All these things came
Everyone knows what happened in the early stages of
capitalism. The competition was savage, and there was no
protection for the weak. In the quest for profits there was a
total disregard for the impact on the society and the
environment. This is exactly what's happening in China right now.
We're in a transitionary period. The reforms are necessary,
but workers have to protect their own interests.
To get rich was glorious, said the government, but those who
got rich were mostly people in power and insiders who had always
Only government and industry cadres could work the turnover:
buying goods at fixed government prices and selling them on the
free market at a big profit.
More than anything else, workers complained of corruption.
The officials take and take, damn it. So why can't we take?
How come when we take, we're called criminals and when you take,
MOURNING FOR HU YAOBANG AT SQUARE
People needed to vent their anger, but they were worried
because so many had been persecuted in the past just for speaking
In a crowd, they felt it was safe to let off steam. Often
someone would rant and rave and then quickly disappear back into
But I felt that the reason for a lot of my suffering was that
hardly anyone took responsibility for what they said or did. I
thought I should try to set an example. So I told people my name
whenever I spoke, to show that I was prepared to take the
consequences for what I said. I wanted to indicate to people that
to change a society you had to start with yourself.
Students and intellectuals had been among the strongest
supporters of the reforms. Yet after a decade of economic growth,
they enjoyed few of the benefits.
There's a saying in Beijing: "You're as poor as a professor,
and as dumb as a Ph.D." This was really true. No matter how hard
you worked, you couldn't get anywhere.
There is something really wrong with the reforms. Those in
power have benefited from them, not the people. Although there is
superficial economic prosperity, the masses and intellectuals
have been deprived of any hope or initiative.
HU FUNERAL CROWDS
MAN STANDING ON MONUMENT
Comrade Hu Yaobang passed away. He was an incorruptible official. He had no overseas bank accounts. His children did not climb to high positions because he was the head of the Communist Party. Yesterday we talked here about minzhu , democracy. What is minzhu ? Min means "the people." Zhu means "to be in charge." We want to be in charge!
The Communist Party had always defined
, democracy in just this way: the people, in charge.
But if real democracy was to be implemented, how were the
people to take charge?
China is so huge, and communications are so bad, even if you
were to call national elections tomorrow, how would people know
whom to vote for?
Conditions weren't ripe for a sudden leap to that stage of
democracy. But people did know whom they wanted to elect in their
local communities. So, open elections were already possible at
the village level. When this form of democracy became more
routine, we could introduce broader elections on the county level
and then higher and higher up.
Those of us who were working for Zhao Ziyang pushed for this
type of grassroots-level democratic election. Of course, the
hard-line Communists immediately saw this as a threat to their
power, so they were deadset against it.
As for the intellectuals, they said, "Grassroots democracy is
not important. What we want to determine is the fate of China,
not just the fate of a village, a county!" So we had trouble
Students dissatisfied with the status quo might have taken up
the hard work of building democracy at the local level. Or they
might have organized to demand redress of their own grievances as
underpaid and undervalued intellectual workers.
But that's not what interested most students. They talked, as
Chinese students have always talked, of saving China.
Hu Yaobang's death was caused by the mental stress resulting
from his illegal removal from office. We thought commemorating
one man was not going to help China. To ensure our nation's
positive development, we had to start transforming the political
system. We wanted to use this opportunity to put forth our
Around midnight on April 17, we set out from Beijing
University. We carried a banner that read: "The Soul of China."
On the morning of the 18th, over a thousand students held a
meeting in the Square.
STUDENT ON SQUARE
Permit unofficial newspapers!
Guarantee freedom of association, and freedom of speech!
Raise the pay of intellectuals!
The students settled on seven demands, and wrote up a
petition. They carried the petition to various government
At Xinhuamen, the entrance to the old palace compound where
China's top leaders live and work, the students waited for an
The students surged towards the gate a number of times, so I
went over to the big red columns. I called out to them, "I'm a
worker. I've been a soldier myself, and I think what you're doing
is very risky. This is the seat of the highest power in the
nation. If you storm in, the government will have every reason to
mow you down." I said, "To sacrifice yourselves like this is
completely meaningless. We should use other methods to achieve
our goals." I told people to stop pushing, to sit down and wait.
Eventually the crowd settled down. There were no clashes that
night. The next night I didn't go to Xinhuamen, but later I heard
there'd been a bloody incident.
WUER KAIXI - Student
My friends! My friends! Move back!
Early this morning... Quiet! I'm an eyewitness to the April 20th atrocity which occurred early this morning. We were staging a sit-in, and we persisted until five this morning!
About one thousand police and soldiers brutally broke into our ranks. They savagely beat us up. They also beat up other citizens. They injured countless people! And they had their hands all over our women classmates!
Oppose suppression! Oppose violence! Down with dictatorship!
We are not a mob. We are civilized members of this society. I think everyone agrees that we must be orderly and disciplined in our actions. We are now coordinating with universities all over the city to boycott classes. We will not return to classes until we reach our goal.
To achieve concrete results, student activists felt they
needed a new organization of their own.
Those who were willing to lead it were taking a great risk.
On the night of April 19th a new student union was formed at
Beijing University. Seven people volunteered to be on the
organizing committee. They became the leaders because they were
courageous enough to step forward. There were no formal
Later the committee made many efforts to organize elections.
But because we constantly faced new crises, we couldn't do what
we'd originally intended.
Organizing committees appeared on many Beijing campuses and,
within days, formed a citywide coalition of independent student
Before dawn on April 22, students gathered at Tiananmen for Hu
Yaobang's official funeral.
The list of their grievances had lengthened. With every
passing day, Hu and mourning in his name were acquiring greater
Guarantee human rights!
Patriotism is not a crime!
Brutality is shameful!
We want free speech!
Hu Yaobang lives on!
On April 22nd, a memorial ceremony for Hu Yaobang was held in
the Great Hall of the People.
When I entered, I felt that the atmosphere was very grim. The
ceremony seemed hurried, and after Party Secretary General Zhao
Ziyang read the eulogy, all the leaders from the Central
Committee rushed off.
When I came out of the Great Hall of the People, I saw a huge
crowd gathered in Tiananmen Square. I wanted to go over to them,
but there were nine rows of police standing between us.
The students had brought their petition, and demanded that Li
Peng, the prime minister, come out to accept it himself.
When we saw our classmates kneeling there holding the petition
with raised arms, everyone cried. In it were our suggestions to
the government, but we had to hand it in kneeling down. No one
paid any attention. No one came forward to accept it.
LÜ JINGHUA - Worker
We all saw those three students. We workers felt: "Premier,
you should come out. You should accept the petition and answer
their demands. Even if you don't agree, you should at least make
some gesture." But the Premier just left. He completely ignored
the students. Now how do you expect people to take that?
How could the government be so callous? Many of us who had
just gathered inside the Great Hall had taken part in student
movements when we were young. So why were we treating the
students this way now?
During those early days of the student movement, we pleaded
with the authorities, petitioned them like loyal subjects in
traditional China. At first we made direct appeals, then we
pleaded with tears and on bended knee. Yes, we were even willing
to kneel down before them, like subjects petitioning the emperor.
We had to beg them to come out and talk to us. But then again, it
is fair to say that the government virtually crumbled under the
weight of our knees.
What the students were opposing now were the very same things
we had opposed in our youth. Why had we turned into a party which
was against the people and the students? This wasn't the same
Communist Party I had originally joined.
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH MARIA SHRIVER
Good evening. Thousands of Chinese students took to the streets today in defiance of a government ban on public protest. The students' chant was for democracy, their demands for political reform. The backdrop was a memorial service for fallen leader Hu Yaobang...
LIU XIAOBO - Teacher, literary critic
I was in New York at the time. This kind of news was on
television and in the papers every day. When friends got
together, all we talked about were these events. The TV images
affected me deeply. I thought, what's the use of getting all
worked up about it if you're so far away? I had to go back. So I
got on a plane leaving New York on April 26th. When I was
changing planes in Tokyo, I met someone who had just come from
China. He said, "What do you think you can do back there? Haven't
you heard about the editorial that just appeared? It calls the
movement a plot of a small handful to instigate anti-party,
: turmoil, upheaval, chaos. A
editorial denounced the demonstrations.
"We must unequivocally oppose
," the headline read.
Such an editorial, appearing in the official Communist Party
media, amounted to a charge of criminal conspiracy.
It was dangerous for me to go back then. I even asked about
flights returning to New York. But then I heard the boarding
announcement for my flight to Beijing. I didn't have time to
hesitate. I had to get on that plane. I thought, What the heck,
live or die, I'll just go.
With the April 26 editorial, the government took a firm stand
against the student movement.
The Communist Party has a tradition of passing judgment on
social incidents through the media. In the past, Mao had written
quite a few
editorials himself. He launched a number of mass political
persecutions this way.
That's why when the April 26 editorial came out, people
assumed that it represented Deng's attitude toward the student
Everyone expected that the government would crack down on any
LIANG XIAOYAN - Teacher
We were very angry. What petty minds! These people in the
government have gone completely haywire! Just listen to what
they're saying. It sounds like the Cultural Revolution all over
again. The mindset, even the words, were identical to the
editorial which came out after the Tiananmen Incident of 1976. We
all lived through that episode. And we know how that ended up.
ZHOU ENLAI FUNERAL, 1976
The editorial of April 26 reminded many people of what
happened after another great state funeral: the events of 1976
known to everyone as the Tiananmen Incident.
In January of 1976, Premier Zhou Enlai, Mao's close associate,
one of the great heroes of the revolution, died.
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
The people of the capital could not restrain their bitter grief. They left their homes, and gathered on the sidewalks of the Chang'an Boulevard, along which the cortege would pass.
Zhou was widely regarded as a moderate, more humane and
tolerant than other top leaders.
Just as the mourning for Hu Yaobang in 1989 was the occasion
for protest, the outpouring of grief for Zhou Enlai was a
reproach to the hard-liners in power.
OFFICIAL MOVIE VOICE-OVER
Can't you stop for a minute, dear Premier? This is Tiananmen. Don't you remember the many festive occasions that we celebrated here together? Your ringing laughter is still in our ears. Your warm gaze rests on our tears. Beloved Premier Zhou, how we miss you! How we need you!
The times when important leaders die are dangerous.
Zhou Enlai was a mentor of Deng Xiaoping. He helped bring Deng
back into government to counter the excesses of the Cultural
Revolution. Deng gave the eulogy at Zhou's funeral.
But the events following Zhou's death would once again bring
Deng Xiaoping down.
That April, during the traditional festival in honor of the dead, thousands of people gathered spontaneously in Tiananmen Square to lay wreaths in honor of Zhou Enlai.
They read poems, gave speeches.
Reports made to Mao said the agitation was really directed
Police removed the wreaths, but people brought more.
Police ordered the crowds to disperse; the crowds overturned a
police van and set it afire.
At last Mao took action. Workers armed with clubs were sent
in. There were beatings and arrests.
In the official press the events in the Square were denounced
as counter-revolutionary violence inspired by a small handful of
The alleged mastermind behind the turmoil was that unrepentant
reactionary, Deng Xiaoping.
CROWD IN ANTI-DENG RALLY
Resolutely denounce Deng Xiaoping's reactionary crimes!
Deng was denounced, condemned, forced from power.
Not until after Mao's death would he emerge as China's new
Then the verdict on the 1976 upheavals would be reversed.
The scenes in Tiananmen Square would be replayed, with a
They became courageous demonstrations of the people's will.
And yet now, in 1989, the government of Deng Xiaoping, faced
again with protests inspired by the death of a leader, reached
for the old words of denunciation.
Once again the supreme leader heard reports that the agitation
was directed against him. Once again a small handful of
conspirators were supposedly plotting to bring down the state.
Once again the irrevocable judgment was passed.
The April 26th editorial caught the students by total
surprise. We didn't expect that the government would jump to such
a vicious conclusion about us.
We felt that without large-scale street action, we couldn't
compete with the propaganda machine of the government, and the
people wouldn't know the truth about what we were doing.
The Chinese constitution guarantees the People free speech and
the right to demonstrate. But Chinese law punishes
"counter-revolutionary instigation" by the enemies of the People.
The final arbiter was the Communist Party.
Were the students the People? Or were they now enemies of the
People who must be suppressed?
I got together with some friends to talk about the situation.
All of us were teachers at various universities. We heard that
huge numbers of police would be deployed the next day. This
really worried us. We decided to demonstrate with our students.
We felt that we must show where we stood at a moment like this.
APRIL 27 MARCH
Down with corrupt officials!
Patriotism is not a crime!
Continue the reforms!
In the early morning of April 27th, students set out from
campuses all over the city and walked toward Tiananmen Square,
the political center of China.
Patriotism is not a crime!
Justice will prevail!
Police were placed on alert throughout Beijing and positioned
to blockade key intersections along the route.
Demonstrations without official approval are illegal and will be banned.
We were prepared to face great danger. Some students even
wrote their wills. This was because we had heard that the
government was moving in troops to suppress any further
Everyone showed a lot of self-control.
Since the government had accused us of instigating turmoil, we
were eager to show the people that we weren't a lawless mob, nor
were we trying to overthrow the Communist Party or socialism.
The press must tell the truth!
Many workers were furious. The government said that the
students were instigating turmoil. Well, the way I see it, if the
students were wrong, you wouldn't have to send the police or the
soldiers! There are plenty of young workers like me who could
beat them up. But the students were right! They expressed what
was in the hearts of us workers. That's why we went out to
I was really moved that day. The students held out cardboard
boxes for donations, and I stuffed money in them. When I saw the
students were sweating, I bought popsicles for them.
I supported this demonstration because it was focused against
one of the most fundamental means by which the Communist Party
maintains its rule, that is, to accuse people of fabricated
political crimes. The students showed real conviction. They put
their lives and their futures on the line to fight this unjust
When we started out I was very worried about the possibility
of bloodshed. I kept telling the students that if we encountered
the police, we should not force our way past them.
At one point the clash with the police was so intense that
people could have been trampled to death. I was almost crushed in
the crowd. But it was obvious that the police were not ordered to
beat people up. They only tried to form a human blockade.
STUDENTS BREAK THROUGH POLICE LINE
The students met little further resistance. They continued
their march toward Tiananmen Square.
The students were very pleased with themselves for breaking
through police lines, and the cheering of onlookers made them
feel like real heroes. The whole thing now turned into a
carnival, because there was no more danger, and everyone was
watching the students' big show. That was how I felt later that
day, completely different from when I started out.
It had been an unprecedented day: a mass student
demonstration, held in the face of government warnings, had been
allowed to march peacefully through the streets.
And that very day the government announced that it was willing
In this event both sides had made efforts to exercise
restraint. This unprecedented moment could have opened up new
possibilities, if only people understood what it meant. But a
historical opportunity is often easily overlooked, easily passed
by. Unfortunately, this was just what happened.
I had just arrived back in China at that point. I suggested to
the students that it was not a good idea to continue staging huge
demonstrations. Once you have shown your strength, you should
return to classes and try to secure some specific democratic
rights on campus.
Few students were ready simply to go back to class.
But what should they do next?
The triumph of April 27 would be the last moment in which all
parties working for change were united.
The euphoria soon began to fade and disagreements over tactics
What a student movement represents is a call for social
justice. There are times when we have no choice but to take to
the streets to express our ideas, vent our anger, and show our
determination to change things. April 27th was such a time. The
students did a great job, and the government was forced to change
its usual behavior. But our ultimate goal is to change the entire
system. This cannot be accomplished by students staying in the
The students demanded that the government grant legal status
to their new organization, the Coalition of Independent Student
Unions, and talk with them as equals.
One of the most important demands raised by the students was
for the government to have a dialogue with them. Where did the
idea of dialogue come from? Actually, Zhao Ziyang was the first
to promote it.
He said government leaders should engage in dialogue with
ordinary people. The Party hard-liners opposed this from the
start: "It's absurd!" they said. "The Party and the People are
one family, how can a family negotiate with itself? You're trying
to imitate the West!"
They wouldn't even let us use the word
, dialogue, was a key part of the reformers' strategy to open up
the political system. It was aimed at making officials at all
levels more responsive to popular opinion.
The head of the Party, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, was a
leading advocate of these reforms. At the 1987 Party Congress,
Zhao was finally able to get the principle of dialogue adopted as
But to have the entrenched party bureaucracy to behave in new
ways was another matter.
On April 29, the government held a meeting with
representatives of the official student union of Beijing. Only a
few of the new activists managed to get in.
Yuan Mu was the government spokesman. His was not the new,
more open face that Zhao Ziyang wanted. He spoke with the voice
of standard Party authoritarianism.
And he did most of the talking.
The Independent Student Union called this meeting a fraud.
Surrounded by the media, the student leaders made the rounds
of government offices to present their conditions for further
Reporters, please don't create chaos. Please be considerate.
At one government bureau, a group from the countryside was
trying to get their grievances heard.
Grassroots democracy hadn't reached their village. So they
were doing what they'd always done: kneeling before the offices
of the central government, to beg for official intervention in
their local problems.
They were having little luck getting anyone to listen.
The students said that unless the government accepted their
preconditions for dialogue, they would march again.
YUAN MU PRESS CONFERENCE
Their petition says right here, "We absolutely refuse to allow the existing student unions to organize dialogue with the government." Instead, they insist that the so-called Coalition of Independent Student Unions, which was formed during the demonstrations without any legal procedures, should be the group which organizes the talks.
Some student activists were trying to institute elections.
And they were getting support on campus.
LI WEI, chairing election meeting
Since the government keeps stressing the issue of legality, we should elect a legitimate body to represent us in talks with the government.
Through elections on many campuses, a Student Dialogue Group
The students now changed their tactics. Rather than demanding
official recognition as a precondition for dialogue, they were
willing to talk right away, and they wanted to talk about their
XIANG XIAOJI - Coordinator of Dialogue Group
The aim of dialogue was not to solve everything at once. We
wanted to establish some ground rules, open up some channels for
communication, so that whenever problems arose, there'd be ways
of resolving them. We wanted to lay some foundations for the
future; we wanted to make a good start.
What we were hoping for was gradual progress, reform, not
cataclysmic change, not revolution. Because, honestly, in 1989
the situation wasn't so bad that people felt they needed a
A new path seemed to be opening up, a path leading away from
the confrontational politics that had dominated China for
decades. The path China had, long ago, failed to take.
OFFICIAL MAY 4 CELEBRATION
On May 4 China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the demonstrations of 1919, when patriotic students had first protested against an unresponsive government.
There were two celebrations on that day: the
government-sponsored commemorations at the monument...
and a mass student march from the university district to Tiananmen Square.
The students sang a patriotic song from the 1930's.
Today we are blossoming,
Tomorrow we will be pillars of society.
Today we are singing together,
Tomorrow we will rise in a powerful wave
to defend our country.
Fellow students, be strong,
Shoulder the fate of our nation.
In official Communist Party history, the student protests of
1919 were but a prelude to the Party's revolutionary makeover of
But in fact many of the leading voices of the May 4th era
spoke not for revolution but for democratic reform. After their
days of street protest, many students went back to school, took
up various professions and continued to work for social change.
Those who saw no hope for reform joined the Communist Party to
fight for an ideal society. Over the decades, the voices
championing gradual change were either stifled by conservative
power-holders or drowned out by cries for revolution.
By marching into Tiananmen Square, the students of 1989 were saying to the Party: We are the true inheritors of the democratic legacy of the May 4th Movement.
But the May 4th spirit they were most familiar with was the
one the Party had taught them.
In the value system of the Communist Party, revolution is
placed at the top. So comrades are called revolutionary comrades,
couples revolutionary couples, and families revolutionary
families. Everything is revolutionary. Reform is not a good word
in Communist vocabulary.
What we were trying to do was to introduce the idea of
incremental change to the people of China. We were trying to tell
them that reform was not a bad thing, and that revolution often
failed to deliver its promise.
Once again, the government had not suppressed the march. In
fact, the leaders at the top were deeply divided on how to deal
with the protesters.
On the very day of the May 4th anniversary, Party Secretary
General Zhao Ziyang made a speech that departed surprisingly from
the hard-line April 26th editorial. In a nationally televised
meeting with foreign bankers, Zhao told his audience that there
was no serious turmoil in China.
, dialogue, Zhao said, was the solution to the present tension.
The students now debated: should they go back to class and
show support for this conciliatory attitude?
Or did Zhao Ziyang's remarks indicate deep rifts in the
central government that must be exploited by pushing harder,
Many students went back to class.
On May 8th, several leaders of the independent student union
of my university came to see me. They complained about the
students who had returned to class, and said they wanted to
blockade the classrooms.
I said: "I thought you were demanding democracy. A basic
principle of democracy is the right of individual choice. If you
deprive others of their choice, how is that different from the
way the communist party has always deprived you of your choice?"
It had not even occurred to them that there was a problem.
They couldn't come up with any good arguments in response, but
they still felt uncomfortable. They said, "Then how can we get
anything done?" In China everything has always been handled this
way: only by preventing others from doing what they want can you
accomplish what you want.
The movement at Beijing University also reached a low point.
More and more students returned to class. A lot of energy was
wasted debating whether we should go back to class or not. I felt
At that time I thought we should resume classes, because I
felt a stalemate like this wouldn't necessarily get us anywhere.
And the students were pretty tired.
On May 10th, Wang Dan gave an interview to a Canadian
WANG DAN, interview by Canadian TV - May 10, 1989
I think that the student movement should move on to a new stage. No more large-scale, intense street action, no more boycotting classes. Instead, we need down-to-earth work to build democracy on campus: the legalization of student organizations, independent student newspapers and radio stations. This work might not look all that grand or glamorous, but it's extremely important.
And yet, over the heads of the prominent student leaders still
hung the People's Daily editorial of April 26, the shadow of
dongluan. That threat cut off any impulse toward moderation.
CHAI LING leads chanting before the office of the People's Daily
Full of nonsense!
Lying to the people!
Where's your conscience?
You may think you're safe!
But your time will come!
When the time is here!
The people will have their day!
Once we were chatting. I said, "How many years do political
offenders get?" Someone said it used to be three years, then it
was increased to five years, then seven and then seventeen years.
I felt very sad. If I got seventeen years, I'd be forty by the
time I got out. I really didn't want that to happen.
On May 11th, six of us discussed the situation. We had placed
a lot of hope on talks with the government. But they kept putting
it off. We feared that the movement would run out of momentum.
Then the government would have been able to arrest the student
leaders one by one and disband the independent unions.
So it was necessary to escalate the movement, to use more
radical methods and apply more pressure to force the government
to concede to our demands. Since demonstrations and sit-down
strikes no longer bothered the government we felt the next step
should be a hunger strike.
Wang Dan told me about the hunger strike, and I immediately
signed up. Then we tried to persuade the leaders of the
Independent Student Unions, but some of them were firmly opposed
to a strike. I think they have a tendency toward opportunism.
As is so often the case, democratic procedures were getting in
the way of political action.
Unable to achieve a consensus within the Independent Student
Unions, the people in favor of a hunger strike bypassed the new
organization and made personal appeals to the students.
On the evening of May 12th, Chai Ling and I addressed the
students. She did most of the talking. She said that the
government was forcing us to put our lives on the line.
She was crying emotionally. This got everyone really stirred
I said, "We are staging a hunger strike in order to reveal the
true face of the government and the true face of the people. We
want to see whether the Chinese have any conscience, whether
there is any hope for China."
I said, "We are prepared to face death for the sake of true
life. The oath written by our lives will brighten the skies of
At noon on May 13, the hunger strikers shared a last
The strikers wanted the government to repeal the April 26th
editorial, and hold televised talks with the students.
That morning, the government had met one of these demands:
they'd agreed to talks with the Dialogue Group.
But by the time this news reached the universities, the hunger
strikers had already set out for Tiananmen Square.
Their declaration, born of a tradition of romantic communist
rhetoric, was both heroic and deeply emotional. It even included
some lines from Mao's youth: "This country is our country, this
people our people: If we don't speak out, who will? If we don't
take action, who will?".
"At the height of youthful happiness and beauty," the hunger
strikers proclaimed, "we must resolutely leave everything behind
"Mother China, witness now the actions of your sons and
daughters. Can you remain indifferent as hunger devours our youth
and death approaches?"
MORNING OF 14TH, WANG DAN LEADS HUNGER STRIKERS IN CHANT
WANG DAN leads call and response
We will not give up!
Until we reach our goal!
CHAI LING gives speech to hunger strikers
We've had a hard night. In the pre-dawn hours everyone was cold and hungry, but we made it through. We may have to endure many more nights like this. I hope we will all persist to the end.
VOICE IN CROWD
Are we determined?
Thank you. You are such good comrades-in-arms!
The hunger strike could not have come at a worse time for the
That week a historic meeting, years in preparation, was to
take place: the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev,
was coming to China.
A grand welcoming ceremony was scheduled to take place in
Tiananmen Square -- which was filled, at the moment, with
thousands of students.
On May 15th, the government planned to welcome Gorbachev at
Tiananmen Square. Everyone knew that the Square would have to be
So the students thought that if they staged a hunger strike
there, the government would definitely respond by May 15. I heard
many students talk like this.
On the afternoon of May 14 -- less than twenty-four hours
before Gorbachev's arrival -- the government began talks with the
Dialogue Group. The main official representative was Yan Mingfu,
a leading reformist minister. Some students who had initiated the
hunger strike were also present. Wuer Kaixi was one of them.
The biggest victory of the whole movement was that our hunger
strike forced the government to the negotiating table. We
demanded a live television broadcast, but the government agreed
only to a pre-recorded broadcast. So we made a concession on this
point. We felt that a pre-recorded broadcast was in itself a
But the hunger strikers who were waiting at the Square did not
hear the promised broadcast.
HUNGER STRIKERS CHANT
Suspicious that they had been sold out, many of them rushed to
the hall where the talks were being held and disrupted the
So the talks were wrecked by the students themselves. I felt
that May 14th was a big setback for the student movement. After
this, the students missed many more opportunities by repeating
the same mistakes.
It was the eve of Gorbachev's arrival, and talks between the
students and the government had broken down.
When we speak of the government we're talking about two kinds
of people: the reformers who were in power at the time and the
hard-liners who opposed them. Reform was in a very precarious
situation and came under constant attack. The reformers hoped for
social stability, so that they could continue their difficult
work. The hard-liners had been using all kinds of underhanded
tactics to get Deng Xiaoping to turn against the reformers. But
they hadn't seen much success. So they wanted to create a massive
crisis in order to get rid of the reformers, as they had Hu
INTELLECTUALS MARCH TO SQUARE
STUDENT WITH MEGAPHONE
The twelve most famous writers and scholars of China are coming to present their emergency appeal at the Square!
I was worried that reform would be derailed. If that happened,
then all that grand sloganizing about democracy, about abolishing
dictatorship, and so on, would simply be a lot of hot air.
DAI QING, speaking to hunger strikers on Square
We oppose the use of violence against the hunger strikers on any pretext. Anyone who resorts to violence will go down in history as a criminal.
The twelve scholars, journalists, and critics were well known
supporters of liberal reform in China and widely-respected. They
all praised the students, but called on them to change their
DAI QING, speaking on Square continued
Avoid actions which will hurt our friends and please our enemies. Let the Sino-Soviet summit proceed smoothly. We plead with you to continue in the rational spirit which has characterized the movement so far. If the government makes a concession, then we propose that the students temporarily leave the Square.
The problem with these intellectuals was that they were
playing the wrong role. They were acting as mediators between the
students and the government. We made the government agree to
face-to-face negotiations. This was unprecedented in the last
forty years and this was accomplished by us, the students, acting
as an independent political force. And then when we invited the
intellectuals to join us, they came to the Square and addressed
us as "children."
SU XIAOKANG addresses students on Square
We should have patience! We should be rational! We have to educate the government! Can we be rational?
Good! If the government makes a concession, will we be able to respond rationally?
That's all I have to say.
The message that we got from them is this: "You people have
gone too far! You have to listen to your mommy and daddy, listen
to your government." Well, all I have to say is, what have you
done to give you the right to criticize us?
The 12 scholars had made an accurate assessment of the
situation and they were well-intentioned. They knew this
stalemate would harm the students' cause. But all the students
had put so much into the hunger strike, how could the government
simply ignore us? If we left, it would have been like encouraging
a bully. Emotionally we couldn't accept that. You can tell me all
you want about what a rational person should do, but I say,
excuse me, I can't be that rational because I'm not facing a
We failed completely. At the time, I felt that we
intellectuals were caught between a totally irrational government
and totally irrational students. What could we do?
Although most students were unimpressed by the intellectuals'
attempts at mediation, some shared their belief that Gorbachev's
visit would help the cause of reform in China. As a last-minute
compromise, Wuer Kaixi led the call to make room for the official
welcoming ceremony for the Soviet leader.
WUER KAIXI, speaking on Square
Our demands are reasonable. But if we forget patriotism, we will be hurting our own cause.
We should make a gesture. I'm not saying we should quit, but we should move aside! I'm now speaking only on my own behalf. I'm Wuer Kaixi. I'm pleading with you. Don't lose sight of the big picture. I'm begging you!
We really were not willing. We decided not to move.
Because--well, I'll quote the words of a foreign reporter. He
said, "You're already on a hunger strike. What more can they ask
On the night of the 14th, everybody was waiting for the
clearing of the Square. Everyone was restless. "Why aren't they
coming, why aren't they coming?" On the morning of the 15th, I
phoned a friend. We both felt that the situation was very grim.
If the government ignored the students on May 15, they would be
put into a very awkward position. What were they going to do,
stay on a hunger strike forever?
"If the government can simply stand by and watch while the
students' lives slowly waste away like this, we will have to take
even more drastic measures. We will set ourselves on fire. If the
government is callous enough to see these children starve to
death, then I will be the first to die." I said this over the
loudspeakers. I said I was willing to be the commander-in-chief -
I don't remember my exact words - I said the only criterion for a
person to join the hunger strike leadership was a willingness to
be the first to die, so that other students could live on.
GORBACHEV'S ARRIVAL AT BEIJING AIRPORT
The government chose to cancel the grand ceremony planned for
Tiananmen Square. Gorbachev got only a quick welcome at the
The first visit to China by a Soviet head of state since 1959
had been upstaged by the students.
Gorbachev met with Party leaders like Zhao Ziyang, who looked
to the Soviet Union as an example of political reform; and with
others, like Premier Li Peng, who were wary of everything
Both groups in the Chinese government needed the backing of
Deng Xiaoping, who was in charge of the military, and thus held
the real reins of power.
By now the hunger strikers had been in the Square for two days
and their numbers were increasing constantly. Still there was no
As time dragged on, sympathy for the students and anger at the
I couldn't even convince my own students to leave. The female
students cried whenever I spoke to them. In the morning sun, the
students looked so young, with only sheets of newspapers between
themselves and the bare ground. It was really a touching sight.
They were putting their young lives on the line, sitting there
stubbornly. But the government was ignoring them. I was moved. So
I decided to stay on the Square to help them run errands.
We workers and ordinary people had been looking on. Then, when
the students started the hunger strike, using their own lives to
awaken the whole nation, people felt their responsibilities, and
they rose up too.
On May 16, while Gorbachev continued his discussions with the
Chinese leadership, 300,000 people marched in the streets of
On the 17th and again on the 18th, that number rose to one
I went to the Square every day after May 15th, because a lot
of students from my university were taking part in the hunger
strike. I went there to help them with logistics, and run
errands. I also took part in the picket line to ensure that the
ambulances could move freely.
The students had been on their hunger strike for nearly a
week, but still the government paid no attention to them. We
said, what bastards! Any son of a bitch would have acted better
than Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng.
Moderate government leaders tried to defuse the mounting
crisis with whatever concessions they could make. The official
media was allowed to report sympathetically on the hunger strike.
Emergency medical teams were sent in to ensure the health of the
Actions like these suggested that the party line was shifting,
and nobody wanted to be left on the wrong side.
Local party leaders and managers started permitting their
workers to go to Tiananmen to show support for the students.
Organized contingents started showing up carrying the banners
of their workplaces.
To participate now was beginning to look not only right, but
The spectacle was overwhelming, and highly photogenic.
The foreign press, in Beijing to cover the Sino-Soviet summit,
walked into the biggest international media story ever reported
out of China.
CBS NEWS, DAN RATHER REPORTING FROM TIANANMEN SQUARE
What a place, what a time, what a story! It's Friday morning here and this is Tiananmen Square. Today it's the people's square, all right. More than a million Chinese demanding democracy and freedom, and proclaiming the new revolution.
CNN NEWS, BERNARD SHAW (OFF-CAMERA)
Unbelievable! We all came here to cover a summit, and we walked into a revolution.
It's a great feeling to get the attention of tens of thousands
of people. Before the movement, the students had been very
depressed. All of a sudden they were at center stage. People
needed them. They felt a heroic sense of being able to change
history. This feeling was a boost to their egos and whet their
appetites for more.
There's never been a generation like ours, one that mocked the
state, mocked the government, mocked the leaders. And there's
never been a generation that has seen that the outside world is
CUI JIAN COMES OUT OF HUNGER STRIKE BUS AND GREETS PROTESTERS
Cui Jian is China's most famous singer. His song, "Nothing to
My Name," expresses our feelings. Does our generation have
We don't have the goals our parents had. We don't have the
fanatical idealism our older brothers and sisters once had.
So what do we want?
Nike shoes. Lots of free time to take our girlfriends to a
bar. The freedom to discuss an issue with someone. And to get a
little respect from society.
In this process there was something so pure, so unforgettable.
There were also things that I couldn't accept, even things I
found repulsive. But they were all mixed together. And this is
history. History is this kind of process. There's no way to sort
things out neatly.
For example, during the hunger strike some students were
actually eating. They felt that the hunger strike was only a
means to an end. "Our aim is to put pressure on the government,
so why should we make real sacrifices?" One student was outraged,
"You people are manipulating the public". He said, "Once you turn
your sacrifice into a hoax, you lose your moral integrity." So he
wrote in blood, "I want to use my blood to defend the purity of
the hunger strike." I was very moved. This kind of gesture might
not have any significant political impact, but to me it showed a
deep sense of decency, something that had become very rare in
During the days of mounting protest, reformist officials faced
a predicament: they didn't have the power to make the concessions
the students demanded; yet they knew if they couldn't get the
students to leave the Square, hard-liners were more than willing
to use force. And the army had already been mobilized.
Furthermore, since the breakdown of the May 14 talks, it was
no longer clear who really represented the students. The only way
to communicate with the protesters was to appeal directly to the
crowds in the Square.
On May 16th, accompanied by student leader Wang Dan, the
reformist official Yan Mingfu made such an attempt.
He was on the verge of tears. He asked the students to give
the Party reformers more time. He even went out on a limb to tell
us that the problem of the April 26th editorial would definitely
be solved, but it would take time. He was very sincere.
He said that the Central Committee had guaranteed the student
activists wouldn't be persecuted. He said, "If you don't believe
me, you can take me hostage."
Then I said, "I hope everyone will consider this proposal
But the atmosphere was so highly emotional, it was impossible
for either of us to continue. So Yan Mingfu left.
Only hours after Yan Mingfu's appearance in the Square, a
letter from Zhao Ziyang, writing on behalf of the Central
Committee, was broadcast. In essence, it contradicted the April
But the strike continued.
The following day, Premier Li Peng summoned a group of student
leaders to the Great Hall of the People for a televised meeting.
Some hunger strikers came straight from their hospital beds.
INSIDE THE GREAT HALL: LI PENG MEETS WITH STUDENTS ON MAY 18
The students are very concerned with two issues. We fully understand. As the Prime Minister and a communist, I do not conceal my views. But I won't talk about them today. Endless quibbling over these two issues now is inappropriate and unreasonable.
We're not the ones quibbling. It shouldn't be necessary for me to repeat what I said at the start of this meeting. But you leaders just don't get it. I'll tell you one more time. The problem isn't convincing those of us in this room. The problem is how to get the students to leave the Square. The conditions they've laid down must be met. I've made this very clear. There is only one possibility, and this is an objective fact. If but one hunger striker chooses to stay in the Square, we cannot guarantee that the thousands of others will leave.
In the predawn hours of May 19, a worn and haggard Zhao Ziyang
appeared suddenly on Tiananmen Square. Zhao had lost out to the
hard-liners in the party.
On the verge of tears, he said to the students: "We have come
too late. We deserve your criticism."
Zhao then disappeared from public view.
When the reformers were still in power - that is to say before
Zhao Ziyang was removed, he was the most powerful person next to
Deng Xiaoping. The students didn't accept any of Zhao Ziyang's
compromises. They didn't want to cooperate with him in any way.
Once he was defeated it was the hard-liners' turn to show how
they deal with things.
The government was now ready to declare Martial Law. This news
was leaked to the Hunger Strike Headquarters ahead of time. The
students suddenly announced the end of their week-long hunger
strike and began a mass sit-in.
On the evening of May 19th, Premier Li Peng addressed an
emergency meeting of state and army leaders. His speech was
broadcast as army units moved towards the city.
We must end this situation immediately. Otherwise, the fate and future of our People's Republic, for which numerous martyrs have shed their blood, will be in grave danger!
CROWD OF STUDENTS IN SQUARE
Li Peng, step down!
Li Peng's speech only served to incite the people of Beijing.
Street merchants got on their motorcycles. Calling themselves
the "Flying Tigers," they sped to the Square to report on troop
Convoys were blocked by crowds of protesters, and their
YOUNG MAN TO SOLDIERS IN TRUCK
Officers and soldiers of the People's Liberation Army, I appeal to your conscience and courage. Be a true People's Army. Do not become the tool of a small handful! Do not end up as the shame of our nation!
YOUNG WOMAN TO SOLDIERS IN TRUCK
Brother soldiers! Do you know? Do you know? Do you know anything about what we're doing?
Brother soldiers, you're supposed to be defenders of the people, defenders of students! You must not attack them! Don't you know? You cannot do this!
THE PLA AND THE PEOPLE - SCENES OF PLA ENTERING BEIJING IN 1949
The People's Liberation Army had entered Beijing once
before--in 1949. It was a time when the PLA was welcomed in many
Over the years the army was seen as a true People's Army: from
the people, of the people, and for the people. The Party said
that the army was like fish and the people like water: fish can't
live out of water.
The PLA was the guardian of the state, protector of the
people. In times of natural disaster, the army was there to help
fight floods, famine, and fire.
Party propaganda promoted a popular image of the army. Films,
fiction, and stage productions celebrated the PLA, and created a
pantheon of army heroes for mass consumption.
In early 1989, the PLA received its annual tribute in the Chinese New Year TV extravaganza.
WOMAN SINGS FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR TV SHOW
Why is the banner of war as beautiful as a painting?
Because it glimmers with the soldier's fresh red blood.
Why does the spring linger o'er the earth forever?
Because the lives of our heroes have given birth to flowers.
Now, 40 years after being welcomed into Beijing, the army was
This time it came as an alien force.
On the morning of May 20th Martial Law regulations were
announced. The police and the army were authorized to clear the
But people ignored the government's orders. The city was still
jammed with demonstrators. Helicopters were the only military
LOUDSPEAKER ON BUS
This is the propaganda bus of the students' patriotic, democratic movement.
Faced with the threat of armed repression, the students tried
to mobilize even greater public support.
LOUDSPEAKER ON BUS
Workers and citizens of Beijing, the democracy movement has reached a critical moment. Student hunger strikers and supporters are in danger of being punished. We call on the workers and citizens to go out on strike. Go to Tiananmen Square to uphold justice! To fight for the truth!
BUS BREAKS DOWN
Push hard as we chant together. Li Peng, step down!
Just at the moment when the students most needed the support
and protection of a mass movement, a group of workers declared
the founding of an independent union.
They set up a public address station at the north-west corner
of Tiananmen Square.
I became a broadcaster. People sent us a lot of letters. For
the last forty years, there'd been no channel for them to express
themselves. By broadcasting their letters, we gave them a voice.
There are many people like me. We wanted to listen to
something simple, direct and to the point.
The independent workers' union not only put forth its own
demands, it also helped out the students by sending them food and
water. Without the people of Beijing: the workers, the farmers
from the outskirts of the city, and the street merchants, the
students couldn't have persisted for long.
The new union helped mobilize citizens to block the Martial
For some 48 hours the troops remained stuck in the sea of the
people, moving neither forward nor back.
I saw an old woman lying down in front of a military truck.
Her face was all wrinkles, and she had no front teeth. I saw all
these ordinary people, acting not out of political calculation,
or with any ulterior motive, but purely out of sympathy and a
sense of justice, confronting the troops to protect the students
on Tiananmen Square. I was very moved.
Sometimes I was disappointed in how foolish and childish the
students could be. Once a couple of them came to me to discuss
their plans. One claimed to be the Commander-in-Chief of student
security guards. Tourist map in hand, he began to "command". He
said, see here, to the south of us there are such and such
troops, and to the north of us there are such and such troops. He
had all four points of the compass covered.
CHINESE MOVIE "FROM VICTORY TO VICTORY"
COMMANDER IN "FROM VICTORY TO VICTORY"
The situation is extremely grave. Facing us are eighteen enemy divisions. They are pushing north towards us.
I was reminded of a movie I saw called "From Victory to
Victory". In it the Communist commander points to a map and says,
"Facing us are this many troops, on our flank are that many
troops," and so on. I watched this kid carry on like this and
felt like laughing.
He said, "If we blockaded every intersection we'd be spreading
our troops too thin. I plan to concentrate our forces closer to
the Square." I felt that this manner of military command, like a
child playing at war, came straight out of Communist propaganda.
And I wondered: How did I get involved with this lot?
MAN WAVING FLOWERS TO PLA SOLDIERS
On behalf of the people of the whole country, millions and millions of people, I will present them with this bouquet of victory!
The massive show of resistance to the army was successful. The
troops pulled back to the suburbs.
CROWD CHANTS AS TRUCKS PULL AWAY
Long live the People's Liberation Army!
The danger had passed. People continued to pour into the
streets. The workers had helped win a victory for the movement at
the Square, but unlike the students, their need to make a living
tied them to their work places.
A union unrelated to the work place is not really a union at
all. Yet here we were, setting up a union at Tiananmen Square,
inspired by a student movement. What kind of future could it
But there was no way we could organize in the factories.
Furthermore, I knew that the movement was going to come to an end
All we could do was to try to take advantage of the popular
fervor to educate the workers, to let them know that the
constitution grants them all kinds of rights, none of which have
been put into practice.
This way, after the movement in the streets ended and things
returned to normal, some effects of the movement would still be
felt. What I mean here is an awareness of constitutional rights:
workers and peasants would know what rights they should enjoy,
and they'd also know about the legal channels open to them so
they can demand those rights.
Meanwhile, among the students a struggle over tactics
Some of us wanted the students to leave the Square. Not only
out of consideration for the students' safety, we also thought it
was good tactics. By leaving the Square we would have undermined
the rationale for imposing Martial Law, and that might have given
the reformers in the government an opportunity.
Many students do not understand that the Square is our only
stronghold. Some people keep saying that we should leave. But
that could only please the government. What makes me really sad
is that I am the commander-in-chief, and I can't let go of this
power because I must resist compromise, resist these traitors.
The leaders of the Independent Student Unions of Beijing and of
the provinces are all after my power.
In the intense atmosphere of the Square, the leaders with more
radical agendas had the advantage.
These were people who had come to prominence through the
hunger strike. They had not stood for election on campus; their
credentials were a determination to make the greatest sacrifices;
their power base the continuing acclaim of their followers.
They set up a new headquarters to defend Tiananmen Square.
Once more, Chai Ling became Commander-in-Chief. The Commander had
control of the loudspeakers, the voice of the Square that
broadcast to the masses.
CHAI LING'S VOICE FROM LOUDSPEAKERS ON THE SQUARE
For a brand-new, people's democratic republic, we will fight to the end!
The continued hard-line pursued by the government would
further undermine moderation and encourage a hard-line among the
I used to believe that we could establish democratic
processes, and then a lot of people could use science to really
help our country. But now I've come to realize that unless we
overthrow this inhuman government, our country will have no hope!
Our people will have no hope!
After people prevented the army convoys from entering the
city, there was a stalemate. During this lull, people were at a
loss, and didn't know what to do next. This happened over and
over again during the movement: following each new escalation,
people fell into a state of confusion. No one knew what to do or
what to expect. So the students simply hung around the Square
At night, music drifted from different parts of the Square. Once I was awakened after midnight by a rowdy concert. People were shouting, and laughing, making a huge ruckus.
HOU DEJIAN - Pop Star
Popular music, of course, came from the West. When young
people try to express themselves, to sing about their own
concerns, it is really a form of liberalization. That's why this
music played a very important role during the movement. When
someone takes part in a rock concert, that kind of crazy feeling
is all about self-liberation and about self-expression.
HOU DEJIAN MUSIC VIDEO
The new music came via Hong Kong and Taiwan. One of the most
famous Taiwan singers was Hou Dejian.
Hou moved to the mainland in 1983 in search of his roots. He
was the first pop star to appear on national television.
Our culture, as well as the political system in Mainland
China, suppresses the individual and promotes the collective.
Collectivism and patriotism are used to make the majority serve
the few. The message is: "You are not allowed to care about
yourself. Any concern about personal interest simply means that
you are selfish."
I call the 1989 movement a "Self-Liberation" movement. I don't
like calling the founding of the People's Republic of China in
1949 "Liberation." Did Mao really liberate the Chinese people?
Gradually people realized, "We're not really liberated. We want
to liberate ourselves." But Mao didn't want that. Later, Deng
Xiaoping didn't want that either. During the movement everyone
wanted to release their pent-up anger and frustration - how come
you can liberate me, but I can't liberate myself?
CROWD AROUND A PET HEDGEHOG
Put the headband back on! He's a guard in the movement.
This hedgehog is a guard? Can he block the police?
He can prick the police!
The police won't dare touch him.
Who'd like to hold him?
Many people in Beijing felt it in those days of protest: the
sense of being lifted out of their daily drudgery by a cause
greater than themselves.
Maybe, now, through real democracy, a perfect society was
YOUNG CHILD HANDS OUT GARLIC ON SQUARE
Who wants garlic? Garlic, anyone?
There was a heightened sense of community, of giving, of
shared sacrifice. It was said that even the thieves had gone on
strike for the common good.
STUDENTS SINGING IN BUS
I love Beijing's Tiananmen,
The sun rises there.
The great leader Chairman Mao...
leads our forward march.
In the vast Square, in this space designed to make the many
feel as one, a space dedicated to the manufacturing of public
life, the personal gesture now became significant, each small act
of generosity seeming to prophesy a new way of living together, a
It was a feeling as intense as it was transitory.
I watched the student movement on T.V. It was exciting to see
so many people demanding democracy, but I was worried by the
general, intangible nature of their demands.
In China, all information is so tightly controlled by the
Communist Party that people whose lives are run by this huge
machine have no idea how it really works. So they usually behave
in one of two ways: They either accept Party rule passively, or
summon the courage to try and smash it all to pieces. But what
happens after it's been smashed?
Faced with a territory and a population to govern, the student
leaders on the Square found themselves recreating in miniature
all the real-life problems of having and holding power.
"External" threats of government repression meant enforcing
"internal" security. Disagreements with the leadership were
labeled "betrayal," "sabotage" by the familiar "small handful of
Struggles between the groups vying for power in the Square
grew increasingly ugly.
As commanders we tried to make our decision-making process as
open as possible. But many students still felt that they had no
normal channels through which to express their opinions. When
they wanted to be heard they'd try to seize power.
PEOPLE AT THE MARTYRS' MONUMENT, PUSHING AND SHOVING
No cameras! No cameras! Cover that lens!
Some student guard units were formed in a bizarre way. Someone
from the Square would run to the train station to meet newcomers
from the provinces. He'd announce, "I am the commander of the
student security guards. Come with me! The Square needs you!" So
the newcomers, who had no idea what was going on, would become
the guy's guard.
Then they'd surround the student headquarters or the broadcast
station and drive away our guards. Once they took control of the
broadcast station, they were in power.
Often we had to suppress 3 or 4 coups a day. At the time I
even joked, "Now I finally understand why Li Peng wanted to
suppress the students."
Once I made a suggestion to the students. That was around May
23rd. I said, why not hold an election at the Square or on your
campuses, one student, one vote, and elect the leaders of the
student union. But they felt elections were unthinkable in the
middle of all that chaos.
Then a week later I heard that the students were setting up a
democracy university in the Square. I thought: "Well, that
suggestion of mine was at the level of a democracy kindergarten.
You people didn't like it, so now you're setting up a democracy
university. But no matter what, you still have to vote."
By the end of May the students' resources--financial,
political, and emotional--were running low, and the Square was
getting more squalid every day.
Some concerned intellectuals had set up joint meetings
involving workers' and citizens' groups, the independent student
unions, and the Defend Tiananmen Square Headquarters. They had
been meeting daily since May 23rd.
Wang Dan acted as liaison among them.
At the May 27th coalition meeting, Chai Ling and Feng Congde
reported on the situation in the Square. The impression we got
was that things were really chaotic. There was endless factional
in-fighting, and sanitary conditions were terrible. We began to
doubt whether anything positive could come out of this on-going
So we drafted a proposal. The vote in favor of it was
unanimous, including Chai Ling. Later, we held a press conference
in the Square to announce this proposal.
WANG DAN, Press Conference on the Square
To avoid an irrational confrontation with this irrational government, and to create conditions to resolve this conflict through legal and democratic procedures, we propose suspending our peaceful demonstration in Tiananmen Square on May 30th, the tenth day after the declaration of martial law.
After the press conference, Li Lu raised objections to our
proposal. Then Chai Ling changed her mind and decided to oppose
The people who made the decision to leave the Square on May
30th had a very negative effect on the movement. I attended the
meeting, but I didn't realize at the time how harmful their
decision would be. The real issue at that meeting was that some
people were trying to use the movement to make themselves famous,
and we opposed this. I want to say to everyone that the Square is
our only stronghold. If we lose it, the conservatives will
I regret we didn't debate the issue further. Although we had
many good arguments in our favor, we felt we could never compete
with the emotional appeal of their position. So we gave up. I
think we should have acted more responsibly.
After that I thought that any attempt to influence the
situation on the Square would be futile. There was nothing more I
could do. So I decided to go back to campus and do what I could
to further democracy there.
Why did the students want to stay at Tiananmen? Because our
goal was to awaken the people.
Tiananmen is the symbol of our People's Republic. When we took
action there, we were telling people throughout the country that
there were still some of us who dared to fight back. A lot of
students felt that the longer we held out, the more time people
would have to think freely.
We held a meeting at the Square every night. Two to three
hundred representatives from the various universities would get
together. The issue of whether or not to leave came up almost
every time. At least 80% of the students always voted to stay. If
we were to stick to the principle of majority rule, it was
impossible to leave the Square.
The student population at the Square was constantly changing.
As those who grew discouraged or disgusted left, they were
replaced by enthusiastic newcomers from all over the country. At
any one time there was a majority on the Square who would vote to
stay; those who thought it best to leave voted with their feet.
HONG KONG CONCERT FOR DEMOCRACY
As the students debated whether or not to continue their
occupation of the Square, a marathon benefit concert was being
held on a race track in Hong Kong. Millions of dollars were
raised for the movement in Beijing.
That night a shipment of tents and other supplies arrived at
the Square, the first installment in a flood of support from Hong
CHAI LING speaking to crowd in the Square
I am Chai Ling. I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Defend Tiananmen Headquarters.
We will mobilize Chinese people around the world to protest martial law! Martial law won't succeed in ten days, in a year, in a hundred years! Those who lose the hearts of the people will perish! Overthrow the illegal government headed by Li Peng!
Chai Ling had successfully resisted the proposal to move the
struggle back to the campuses, and allied herself once more with
those determined to hold the Square.
On the following morning, she contacted American journalist
I've been feeling very sad recently. The students themselves
lack a developed sense of democracy. To be honest, from the day I
called for a hunger strike I knew we would not get any results.
Certain people, certain causes are bound to fail. I've been very
clear about this all along, but I've made an effort to present a
staunch image, to show that we were striving for victory. But
deep down I knew it was all futile.
The more involved I got, the sadder I became. I already felt
this back in April. All along I've kept it to myself, because
being Chinese I felt I shouldn't bad-mouth the Chinese. But I
can't help thinking sometimes -- and I might as well say it --
you, the Chinese, you are not worth my struggle! You are not
worth my sacrifice! But then I can also see that in this movement
there are many people who do have a conscience. There are many
decent people among the students, workers, citizens, and
The students keep asking, "What should we do next? What can we
accomplish?" I feel so sad, because how can I tell them that what
we are actually hoping for is bloodshed, for the moment when the
government has no choice but to brazenly butcher the people. Only
when the Square is awash with blood will the people of China open
their eyes. Only then will they really be united. But how can I
explain any of this to my fellow students?
And what is truly sad is that some students, and some famous,
well-connected people, are working hard to help the government,
to prevent it from taking such measures. For the sake of their
selfish interests and their private dealings they are trying to
cause our movement to collapse and get us out of the Square
before the government becomes so desperate that it takes action.
If we allow the movement to collapse on its own, then the
government will be able to wipe out all the leaders of the
movement, as well as those leaders in the Party and in the
military who dare to oppose them, who represent the people. Deng
Xiaoping has made it very clear that there is this small handful
of people, not only in the Party and in society, but also among
That's why I feel so sad, because I can't say all this to my
fellow students. I can't tell them straight out that we must use
our blood and our lives to call on the people to rise up. Of
course, the students will be willing. But they are still such
Are you going to stay in the Square yourself?
No, I won't.
Because my situation is different. My name is on the
government's hit list. I'm not going to let myself be destroyed
by this government. I want to live. Anyway, that's how I feel
about it. I don't know if people will say I'm selfish. I believe
that others have to continue the work I have started. A democracy
movement can't succeed with only one person!
When Chai Ling finished her interview, she asked the American
journalist to take the tape he had made out to the world.
She told him that she must now leave Beijing and go
That day, students at the nearby Central Art Academy were
finishing work on a statue, which they called the Goddess of
The next night, as the Goddess of Democracy moved from the Art
Academy to Tiananmen, a television reporter interviewed Chai Ling
in one of the new tents on the Square.
She had changed her mind about leaving.
CHAI LING, interview on the Square
After I offered my resignation, many people said that it wasn't right for me to quit at this moment. Since I enjoy considerable prestige within the movement, my resignation would have a negative effect at a time when many students are wavering. So I've decided to stay on for the time being. I'll try to get some rest and help set up a new leadership structure.
Are you thinking of other ways to advance the movement?
Yes. The emphasis of our work should no longer be at the Square, but should be broadened to the whole country. I would like to travel all over the country, even to Hong Kong and other parts of the world. I want to learn about the situation outside and then decide how long we should carry on the battle of Tiananmen Square and determine what effect we can have.
Democracy: the ideal everyone talked about.
She stood facing Mao Zedong on the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
Mao, who had said that he too wanted democracy: Mass Democracy.
What does democracy mean? What was it coming to mean in China?
What could it be made to mean?
If democracy came to China, what would she look like? Whose
features would she wear?
There seemed a chance at least that her face would look all
PAN TO MAO PORTRAIT ON TIANANMEN GATE
Although some cracks have appeared in the system over the past
10 years, the way the whole nation thinks has not yet broken free
of the mold created by Mao.
In the past century or so, the Chinese people have shed blood
time and again, without losing the courage to fight for their
ideals. Each battle, however, has ended in a new tragedy, another
shattered dream. I believe that what the Chinese lack is not
ideals, but the means through which to realize them; not courage,
but the wisdom necessary to achieve their goal. What the Chinese
lack is not a heart, but a mind. During the Cultural Revolution
there was only one mind: that of Mao. After Mao's death, hundreds
of millions of minds needed to start functioning again. It is
much harder for the mind to recover than the stomach.
Though they gave the movement no new goals or direction, the
bright new tents and supplies from Hong Kong -- which included
massive infusions of cash -- would've lifted anyone's flagging
FENG CONGDE, at meeting with John Shum
We are grateful for the support provided by our Hong Kong friends. Your support has boosted our confidence.
And how did you raise the money in Hong Kong?
JOHN SHUM - Film and TV producer
Several -- many, many ways. For example, there was one concert, "Concert for Democracy in China." In that concert alone, fourteen million Hong Kong dollars, fourteen, was raised, okay; and through other channels, phone-ins, or other, many, many channels -- through federation of student union in Hong Kong -- they raised more than ten million. So we are talking about quite, you know, quite some money here.
International support suggested the possibility of a real
victory for the movement; but money did nothing to stop the
struggles for power being played out on the Square.
FENG CONGDE AND CHAI LING KIDNAPPING SEQUENCE
At 4:00 a.m. Chai Ling and I were sleeping in a tent. Several people burst in, gagged us, and tried to take us away. But I broke free.
CHAI LING speaking into telephone
My husband and I yelled with all our might, "I'm Chai Ling! I'm Feng Congde! We're the Commanders! We're being kidnapped!" So other students rescued us.
REPORTER to Chen Wei
Chai Ling said you were one of the kidnappers.
CHEN WEI - student from Shenyang
I didn't know of any plans to kidnap them. But before that happened, I heard many complaints about Chai Ling, Li Lu and Feng Congde. Some people disliked their leadership style and the messy finances. So they took radical action. This kind of personal attack is not right. I am absolutely opposed to it. We should use peaceful and democratic means to resolve such problems.
REPORTER to Chai Ling
What do you think were the kidnappers' motives?
Many signs show that this was a well-organized, premeditated plot. We've learned that the government has been buying off student traitors. They're trying to weaken the leadership at the Square and destroy our movement.
Holding onto the Square like this was absolutely meaningless.
And I felt it was harmful to the students' cause.
One day a friend of mine who was a fairly well-known
intellectual came to see me. I told him that I had been going to
the Square every day to persuade all of my students to leave.
But he said that the students shouldn't leave. He said,"With
the students at the front lines, we'll be safe. Once the students
withdraw, the government will come after the intellectuals." I
was furious. I said, "So you want the students to shield you from
danger! What right do you have to hide behind them? Why don't you
try living in the Square like that? It's easy for you to talk,
never missing a meal and sleeping in your own comfortable home!"
After the May 27th decision to leave was overturned by people
like Chai Ling, the students were in a predicament: they couldn't
leave, yet by simply hanging on, the movement was losing its
appeal, and the number of people coming to the Square was
dwindling. In our joint meetings the discussions focused on
how to straighten things out in the Square. The students should
either take the initiative to leave or stay on but improve their
image -- they couldn't afford just to sit there passively.
But none of us could come up with anything practical. So I
thought I might as well go on a hunger strike.
Liu Xiaobo told me, "If we don't join the students in the
Square and face the same kind of danger, then we don't have any
right to speak."
On June 2, Liu Xiaobo and three of his friends set up a tent on the Martyr's Monument and began their hunger strike.
There's no way for me to know whether our hunger strike had
affected the government's decision to launch the bloody
crackdown. If it did, I would feel guilty for the rest of my
From the moment I walked out of the Square, my heart has been
heavy, after all that bloodshed on June 4th. I've never gotten
The four men saw their hunger strike as a chance, maybe the
last chance, to persuade the students to live up to their
democratic goals, and make their own decisions rather than simply
reacting to escalating government threats.
We were making a plea to both the government and the students
to abandon the ideology of class-struggle, to abandon hostile
attitudes and act with greater tolerance. Everyone needed to
examine their own behavior.
Our hunger strike was not a heroic act but a gesture of
repentance for the years of cowardice of Chinese intellectuals.
LIU XIAOBO SPEAKS AT MONUMENT ON JUNE 3
LIU XIAOBO addressing crowd
A major problem with the student movement is that it is obsessed with opposing the government, but unconcerned with practicing democratic principles in its own ranks. To replace a military dictatorship with a student dictatorship would hardly be a victory; it would be a failure, a tragic failure.
We felt that under no circumstances should people involved in
this movement act in secrecy or use underhanded tactics. That's
what our fathers and grandfathers have been doing all along. If
you act like the people you oppose, you'll end up just like them.
And then you'll have to be overthrown. So, what's the point? Why
start a movement in the first place?
HOU LEADS CROWD IN SINGING OF "HEIRS OF THE DRAGON"
The hunger strikers' gesture of humility and restraint had the
paradoxical effect of revitalizing the flagging protest.
Once again the Square filled with thousands of people.
SONG, "HEIRS OF THE DRAGON"
It was a hundred years ago on a quiet night.
The deep dark night before the great changes.
How many years did those gunshots resound?
So many years and so many years more.
Hou Dejian's anthem "Children of the Dragon" was the best
selling pop song ever marketed in China. Everyone knew the words.
Open your eyes.
For now and ever more,
Open your eyes.
I never thought our hunger strike would have such an impact.
Once again the Square was filled with people.
But they hadn't necessarily been attracted by the ideas
expressed in our declaration. I think the majority of them came
because we had gone on a hunger strike, and especially because
the famous rock star, Hou Dejian, was involved.
HOU DEJIAN addresses crowd at Monument on June 3rd
I'm joining this hunger strike not only on my own behalf, but also to represent the pop stars and everyone else at the "Songs for Democracy" concert held in Hong Kong on May 27th.
There was Hou Dejian, wearing his "Songs for Democracy"
T-shirt. He was a real pro in the way he worked the crowd. He'd
call out: "Do you know the singer Deng Lijun?" "Yes!" came the
reply. Then Hou would look for the pop star's signature on his
T-shirt. "Here she is, she's right here!" The crowd went wild.
The four hunger strikers were soon infected themselves by the
intense emotions on Tiananmen Square, the very thing they wanted
During the movement, I was so often divided. In our hunger
strike declaration, I wrote about getting rid of hatred in
politics, and so on. But when I faced that cheering crowd and
felt that we might actually defeat martial law, the voice of
reason left me.
LIU XIAOBO addresses crowd at Monument on June 3rd
Let the world see us in a new light. Who will determine the fate of China? It's the people!
Once you get involved in the actual situation, it was just so
hard to keep a cool head, to know who the hell you are! Facing
the thousands of people who cheered me on, I was completely
carried away. Now here I was, speaking at Tiananmen Square, I
felt that my words could sway the fate of the nation.
SOLDIERS SURROUNDED BY CROWD
Go away! Go away!
In the early hours of June 3rd, army units once again
attempted to get to the Square.
Most of the troops weren't in combat gear, but people were
outraged to find that some were actually armed. Protesters
confiscated guns, cattle prods, cleavers and knives and displayed
them as proof that the government intended to use violence. Then
they turned the weapons over to the city police.
When day came, crowds had stopped busses being used to
transport weapons into the city and were ejecting the soldiers.
Troops stationed in the nearby Great Hall of the People were
ordered out to retake the busses. They too were surrounded and
So the soldiers sat down, and everyone started to sing --
soldiers and protesters each hoping, perhaps, to sing the other
side into submission.
They all sang the same few familiar songs, from the days of
the revolution. They sang "Without the Communist Party, There is
No New China," "The PLA Anthem," and "The Three Disciplines and
Eight Points of Attention."
Pay attention to these eight points.
Be courteous in speech.
Respect the masses. Don't be arrogant.
Don't mistreat prisoners.
No beatings, no insults, Don't search their wallets.
Defend our country!
Forever march forward!
We are supported by the people!
At the fringes of the singing match, nervous soldiers collided
with excited citizens.
They're fighting again! Another one is hurt!
Those hurt rushed to the Square to tell their stories.
MAN WITH HELMET
See this? I was hit by this helmet!
Look at all this blood. This is the helmet.
At day's end, the troops from the Great Hall of the People
were ordered back into the building.
MAN IN CROWD
Long live the People's Liberation Army!
But though the army was apparently retreating once more, a
decision had been made for a full-scale military assault.
7:00 EVENING NEWS ON CCTV, 3 JUNE 1989
CHINESE TV NEWS ANCHOR
Emergency Announcement of the Martial Law Enforcement Troops.
CHINESE TV NEWS ANCHOR
Martial Law Units will take all necessary measures. Those who incite opposition must take the consequences.
PROTESTERS FACE TROOPS ON WIDE STREETS
Whose Army are you?
On the evening of June 3, troops and armored personnel
carriers began converging on the center of the city.
Far from the Square on Chang'an Avenue, the Avenue of Eternal
Peace, the great east-west thoroughfare, troops encountered
crowds at every intersection. This time they would not be
STUDENT WITH BLOODY HANDS
This is the blood of a classmate. I was carrying him. Blood was gushing out of his neck. I couldn't stop it with two towels. Blood was coming out of his mouth.
Even after the soldiers opened fire many people couldn't
believe they were using live ammunition.
The crowds blocking the intersections didn't always disperse
when fired on; or they ran away but came back to yell at the
troops. The sound of gunfire attracted even larger crowds.
We heard over the student loudspeakers that there was a state
of emergency in Tiananmen. They called on people to go and show
their support. He wanted to go at once but I wouldn't let him. I
said, "You are just a high school student; what difference can
you make?" As I watched the government warnings on TV, I became
very scared. But it just made him want to go all the more. I
tried to hold him back, but he was so much taller and stronger
than me, I couldn't stop him.
All along Changan Avenue troops encountered barricades, and
crowds throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. After an
intersection was cleared, troops moved more quickly.
A young woman with a home video camera recorded the troops
passing Fuxingmen Intersection, about two miles west of the
Down with fascists!
Don't shout! Do you want to get killed?
Look what's written on that truck, "The PLA is for the people." What crap! They've just been shooting the people!
They're going to shoot their way to Tiananmen.
A lot of people will die in the Square tonight.
TIANANMEN SQUARE, STUDENTS AT MONUMENT SINGING
At that time all was still quiet at the Monument. Hou Dejian
said that it was like being in the eye of the storm. A hurricane
raged all around, but where we were, by our hunger strike tent,
things were relatively calm.
HOU DEJIAN in tent on Square
This song is called, "The Beautiful Chinese." The students and the people of Beijing have done amazing things this past month. They've presented a beautiful image of the Chinese to the rest of the world.
Let's spread our wings.
People with a conscience,
Let's open our hearts.
LIU XIAOBO flashlight interview on Square
The government's intentions are now clear. There's nothing more to be said. The important thing right now is our unity and the improvement of our own organizations. In the past I have debated with a lot of people in my writings. I hope that in a moment like this we can put all our differences behind us.
Who will decide the fate of China? The answer is, the people will prevail!
HOU DEJIAN concludes song
Today we are beautiful.
Everything can be changed.
Everything is within our reach.
Around eleven o'clock, two hours before the main body of the
troops arrived, a single armored personnel carrier drove into the
Workers and Beijing residents stopped it. Someone hit it with
a Molotov cocktail and it caught fire.
The fire hardly slowed it down. Frankly, I was scared and got
out of its way. Everyone got out of its way.
The official loudspeakers around the Square suddenly came on
and announced the emergency orders of the martial law troops.
They said that the government was determined to suppress the
counter-revolutionary violent rioting at all costs.
The huge Square, which had been filled with so many people,
suddenly was emptying before my eyes. Only those of us on the
Monument remained. It really was eerie.
That night I was at a friend's house. She came home around 11
o'clock and said the soldiers had opened fire at Muxidi
intersection, and tanks were moving through the streets. I knew
some of my students were still in the Square. I had to go there.
I arrived at the Square around midnight and found all 12 of my
students. I decided to stay with them and do whatever I could to
help prevent bloodshed.
GAO XIN speaking to students at Monument
Calm down! Don't panic. There's still time before the troops get here. Let's not lose control. We will not back down!
Pushing the crowds before them, the troops now reached the
stretch of Chang'an Avenue that lies between Tiananmen Gate and
We wanted to see what was happening, so we headed south and
ran smack into some soldiers. They weren't shooting into the sky
or at the ground. They were shooting straight at us.
Five workers beside me fell. At first, we said, "Come on,
guys, stop fooling around and get up!"
But then we saw the blood. Some had been shot in the chest,
some in the head. I rushed back to the Worker's Headquarters.
Though I was really scared, I still managed to burn all the
By now many people -- no one knows how many -- had been killed
or wounded. So far most of the casualties were bystanders, and
people blocking the advance of the troops.
Having surrounded Tiananmen Square, the soldiers halted and awaited further orders.
When taunted by the crowd, they fired.
At around 3:00 in the morning, several thousand students sat
down at the Monument. They wanted to stay to the very end. A lot
of blood had already been shed that night, but most of the
students in the Square hadn't seen anything, so they didn't know
what to believe. Everyone imagined that the soldiers would try to
drive us away with clubs, and we would just sit there without
budging, and let the blood flow.
Some students handed me a big padded coat and a helmet, and
said: Mr. Hou, you're too skinny. You won't be able to stand big
clubs or rubber bullets. Here, use this coat for padding.
Everyone thought they'd only use rubber bullets. Then, sometime
after two o'clock, a couple of doctors and students came running
back to the Monument and told us that the soldiers were using
Things were getting more tense all the time. Many workers
whose friends had been killed in the streets gathered at the
Monument. They were very angry and cried, "You students can talk
about nonviolence all you want, but our brothers and sisters have
been killed!" They pulled knives on us and told us to shut up.
One guy had a semi-automatic rifle. Some student guards and I
took it from him. I was terrified. If any gunshots were fired
from the Monument, the troops would have had an excuse to gun
everybody down. So I tried to smash it on the marble railing of
The people at the Monument faced a dilemma. If the students
stayed and resisted, many might be killed.
But if they left, would they be betraying the many workers and
citizens who had already died to protect them and support their
We heard Chai Ling's voice over the loudspeaker. She said:
"Those who want to leave, should leave, and those who want to
stay, should stay." Chai Ling wanted to stay. We felt that Chai
Ling's approach might be disastrous. People who wanted to leave
couldn't do so safely, and those who stayed would be left in
We came up with a plan to negotiate with the troops. We
thought we should send two people, and asked Chai Ling to send
another two representatives from the student headquarters.
Together we would ask the army to give us enough time to leave
At around 3:30, the four people on the hunger strike came to
talk to the students. They said, "Blood is being spilled all over
the city. More than enough blood has already been shed to awaken
the people. We know you're not afraid of dying, but leaving now
doesn't mean that you're cowards."
Chai Ling told us she had heard that leading government
reformers hoped that the students could stay on the Square until
So Liu Xiaobo told her: "I don't care if it's true or not, but
no leader has the right to gamble with thousands of students'
lives at the Square."
Finally our student headquarters told them, "You can go ahead
and negotiate, but you can't represent us."
So we went ourselves. We got into a van and drove only a few
seconds before we saw the soldiers, all lined up on Changan
Avenue. As we got closer the soldiers pointed their guns at us.
They didn't know what we were up to.
A few minutes later, an officer appeared. He listened to what
we had to say and went to report to his superiors. He came back
and told us that they had agreed to our request. He said, "We
hope you can convince the students to leave the Square." We
rushed back to the monument to tell the students. Their opinions
There was little time to debate.
The troops sequestered in the nearby Great Hall of the People
now came out and moved toward the Monument.
Soldiers with guns at the ready converged on the students from
The soldiers came right up in front of us. They were in full
battle gear. The students all stood up. I was in the front row,
with a gun pointing straight at my chest. It was only a few
inches away. The soldiers looked really mean. Only later did the
terror hit me. At the time I was simply stunned. I didn't feel a
thing. I can't imagine what would have happened had they really
I was in charge of the vote to determine whether we should
leave. I said, "On the count of three, those who want to go,
shout 'Go!'; those who vote to stay shout 'Stay!'" I couldn't
tell which side was louder.
I knew that those who wanted to leave would be ashamed to
shout very loud, while those who wanted to stay would shout with
all their might.
Because of this situation, I felt that when the two sides
sounded about the same, most likely more people voted to leave.
So I announced the decision to leave.
At dawn on June 4th, after occupying the Square for more than
three weeks, all the remaining students and their teachers and
supporters left Tiananmen Square.
CROWD SHOUTING AT SOLDIERS
Down with fascists!
Tiananmen Square was empty.
But skirmishes between the people and the Army went on
sporadically for several days. There were more deaths on both
We filed out of the Square from the southeast corner. I was
near the end of the line. When we turned the corner at the
Concert Hall, several tanks came up from behind. Suddenly we
heard shouts of panic. We looked back and saw people scrambling
to get away, as a tank turned around right in the middle of the
crowd. Then we heard screaming and crying. We ran as fast as we
could, afraid that the tank was going to run over us.
A student I knew -- he was not from my university --
practically crawled out from under the tank. Two of his
classmates were crushed.
His father and I waited at the university gate all night. At
about 6:00 in the morning, one of his classmates came back and
told us that at around 11 o'clock he'd been hit by a bullet and
had bled a lot. He didn't know which hospital my son had been
I knew I'd never see him alive again. Ever since April when
the first wall posters appeared on campus, I'd sensed that
something terrible might happen. And, finally, it did. It
happened to me, a person who had always tried to avoid trouble. I
lost my son.
Within a week of June 4th the Army was firmly in control of
the city. The government then began a much harder job:
reestablishing its authority and credibility.
Arrests began immediately.
Those caught throwing rocks at the troops, or setting fire to
Army vehicles, were tried and summarily executed.
The government compiled wanted lists of leading participants
in the movement. Pictures of the 21 most-wanted activists were
shown repeatedly on TV.
When the most-wanted list was broadcast, I was on a boat bound
for Nanjing. I wasn't the kind of person who could take life on
the run. I wanted to return to Beijing and hide because I had so
many friends there. I thought, if I got arrested, so be it. As
soon as I came back to Beijing they got me.
GOVERNMENT FOOTAGE OF DAI QING
Despite her efforts to dissuade students from prolonged street
action, Dai Qing was among those arrested. She was jailed for ten
CHINESE GOVERNMENT VOICE-OVER
Dai Qing and others went to the Square adding fuel to the fire of dongluan.
WANG DAN - 4 1/2 years in prison
The crime of counter-revolution is very peculiar. What counts
is not your actions, but your intention. I said, "My intention
was to help our country democratize." But they said, "Everything
you did shows that your intention was to overthrow the
government, so you're a counter-revolutionary." Case closed.
HAN DONGFANG - 22 months in prison
When I was in jail I debated with my interrogators. They
insisted that the movement was premeditated and well-planned. I
told them it wasn't. I said that if conditions existed in our
country for people to premeditate and plan such a huge movement,
then the Communist Party would have been long gone, vanished
without a trace.
Liu Xiaobo, the teacher and critic who took part in the final
hunger strike, was jailed for twenty-one months.
CHINESE GOVERNMENT VOICE-OVER - EDITORIAL ON LIU XIAOBO
Let's examine Liu Xiaobo's deeds during the student unrest. Let's see how this evil mastermind conspired with reactionary forces at home and abroad to manipulate the students and instigate dongluan.
History will not conform to the will of reactionaries. The people, only the people, are the true masters of China!
When I left, I thought I'd never see my daughter again. She
stood in the doorway. She grabbed my clothes. So I played with
her and said, "Bye-bye."
No one else was at home. If my mother knew I was leaving, she
would never have let me go. I slipped out when she went out to do
the shopping. I said to my daughter, "Say bye-bye to Mama," and
pretended not to be sad.
After I left Beijing, I was among farmers. They said to me,
"Son, don't be afraid. We'll hide you now, just like we hid the
Communists during the War against Japan. Back then weren't the
Japanese all powerful? And we didn't let them find the
Communists. And now the Communists are all powerful, but we'll
never let them find you."
Almost as soon as the struggle over Tiananmen Square ended,
the struggle over the story of what had happened there began.
The official account was this:
No one had died during the clearing of the Square at dawn on
June 4th. In the approaches to the Square, "ruffians inciting a
violent counter-revolutionary insurrection" had been killed, as
had a small number of innocent bystanders.
The government went to extraordinary lengths to hunt down and
punish anyone whose story strayed from the official line.
One outraged bystander telling atrocity stories to a crowd was
interviewed by ABC News.
XIAO BIN, interviewed by ABC News
Is this what the People's Government does? Using tanks to crush people?
The Chinese government intercepted the satellite relay and
used part of the interview in a nationwide broadcast. It called
on informers to turn the man in.
He was spotted in his hometown, hundreds of miles from
CHINESE BROADCAST, XIAO BIN INFORMANTS
She said, "Look at that man! We just saw him on TV!" I said, "Where?" She said, "There!" I looked and there he was!
CHINESE GOVERNMENT VOICE-OVER
This vicious counter-revolutionary instigator is Xiao Bin.
He is a 42-year-old laid-off worker.
I realize that I've committed a crime. I've taken a stand against the people. So of course I'm a counter-revolutionary. However the Party decides to deal with me, I accept it.
Xiao Bin was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
His case was a warning to all: there was only one correct
version of events, the government's version.
Protesters who had been at the Square gave differing accounts
of what had happened.
Chai Ling, now hiding somewhere in China, sent her story out
via Hong Kong.
HONG KONG ANCHORWOMAN
And now here is the full 40-minute message in which Chai Ling recounts what happened between June 3rd and June 4th.
CHAI LING, in taped message
I am Chai Ling, Commander-in-Chief of the Defend Tiananmen Headquarters. I am still alive.
I am the most qualified person to speak about what happened in the Square between June 2nd and June 4th.
... Only later did we find out that some students still had illusions about the government and the army. They thought at worst they would be forcibly removed by the soldiers. They were exhausted and asleep in their tents. These students were crushed by tanks.
... Some say two hundred students died. Others say a total of four thousand people died in the Square. I don't know the exact numbers.
Some people said that two hundred died in the Square and others claimed that two thousand died. There were also stories of tanks
running over students who were trying to leave. I have to say
that I did not see any of that. I don't know where those people
did. I myself was in the Square until six-thirty in the morning.
I kept thinking, are we going to use lies to attack an enemy
who lies? Aren't facts powerful enough? To tell lies against our
enemy's lies only satisfies our need to vent our anger, but it's
a dangerous thing to do. Maybe your lies will be exposed, and
you'll be powerless to fight your enemy.
Chai Ling's 40-minute message ended with a call for the
Chinese people to rise up.
CHAI LING, in taped message
The more frenzied the fascists become in their brutal suppression, the closer we are to the birth of a true people's, democratic republic! The final moment has come for the survival of our nation! Compatriots, awaken! Down with fascists! Down with military rule! The people will be victorious!
There was no mass uprising.
In the weeks after June 4th, the government tried to clean
away the evidence of the movement and its suppression. People
stopped talking publicly about what they had seen and done in the
spring of 1989.
At one point just about everyone got involved in the movement.
Even many party organizations took part. But as soon as it became
clear that the government was in control, the movement
disappeared as quickly as it had emerged. So many people started
saying the opposite of what they really thought. And they
rationalized it: I have no choice but to go along.
This situation is not essentially different from what happened
at the height of the movement -- words became more radical day by
day and actions more irresponsible -- because in a crowd no one
felt the need to take individual responsibility. And when the
tide suddenly turned, they didn't have the inner strength to
stand by what they had said.
These two extremes are actually two sides of the same coin.
The legacy of the movement at Tiananmen is that it made us
think. There are two ways of going about change. One is the
large-scale mass movement, romantic and grand, which aims to
solve major problems overnight. The other method is gradual,
grassroots, solidly grounded. It looks for cracks in the system
and introduces specific democratic practices which don't
necessarily carry a big label saying "democracy."
Which one is more effective in changing China? In changing the
course of Chinese history?
I compare the 1989 Democracy Movement to an unripe fruit.
People were so hungry that they were desperate. When they
suddenly discovered a fruit, they pounced on it, and swallowed it
whole. Then they got a stomach ache and a bitter taste in the
mouth. So should they have eaten the fruit? You can say they
shouldn't have, but they were hungry. And if you say that they
should have, what they ate was still green, inedible.
Shortly after June 4th, Deng Xiaoping appeared on television
to praise the Army for its heroic efforts.
CHINESE TV ANNOUNCER
Deng Xiaoping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, gave a warm reception to the officers of the Martial Law Troops.
Deng Xiaoping had presided over a decade of profound economic transformation. And he had many times shielded reform from the attacks of hard-liners. Even after the crackdown of 1989 he would continue to push for reforms.
More than once, Deng had suffered from the absolute power
wielded by top leaders in China.
But his reforms stopped short of limiting his own power -- for
good and for evil.
Faced with a crisis, he reached for the old weapons.
Deng may have wanted to be remembered as a man who understood
the needs of the Chinese people, the Grand Architect of Reform,
but the Beijing massacre will forever be a part of his legacy.
DENG XIAOPING speaking to Martial Law officers
I propose that we stand for a moment of silent mourning for the martyrs.
In the government's account, Tiananmen Square was now returned
to the People.
Once again the revolution had been sanctified by the blood of
martyrs. State ceremonies paid tribute to the soldiers who died,
and honored their families.
All this talk about children being the flowers of the
motherland, the hope of the nation, is all for show. When they
feel that it is in the interest of the Party and the state, they
bring on swords, machine guns and tanks.
So I can't watch this stuff on TV. It hurts too much. A life
is a life -- why are people treated differently? All my son asked
for was a little equality. And it cost him his life.
YOUNG PIONEERS TAKING OATH AT THE MONUMENT
Beloved revolutionary martyrs, may you rest in peace!
The Young Pioneers will remember you!
The people will remember you!
The motherland will remember you!
Let our brilliant red scarves serve as our pledge.
We love the Chinese Communist Party!
We love the socialist motherland!
We love the People's Liberation Army!
We will carry on the cause of Communism!
Communism was once a shared ideal held in the face of
oppression and injustice.
The actual political and social systems built in its name fell
far short of its original promise. For a long time before the
killings in Beijing, Communism was losing credibility around the
It no longer grips the minds and imaginations of the Chinese
But the Communist Party has not thereby lost its power.
Power without faith leaves a vacuum that can quickly fill with
anger, resentment, and despair.
GARBAGE DUMP MUSIC VIDEO
GARBAGE DUMP LYRICS
This world we live in is like a garbage dump.
People are like insects,
All fighting one another.
We eat our conscience,
And we shit ideology.
Is there any hope?
Is there any hope?
Is there any hope?
Is there any hope?
After my son's death, I became suicidal. I had to struggle to
get through each day. I thought about other mothers like myself,
and young wives who'd lost their husbands, young children who'd
lost their fathers. I wanted to look for them so that we could
give each other comfort and support.
Should we simply wait for another chance to start a Democracy
Movement like 1989? Would that save China? I don't think so. The
only way to change our situation is for each one of us to make a
personal effort. Every small action counts.
When people abandon hope for a perfect future and faith in
great leaders, they are returned to the common dilemmas of
And there -- in personal responsibility, in civility, in
making sacred the duties of ordinary life -- a path may be found.
On the 100th day after my son's death, I brought his ashes
back home. He's been here ever since.
One day I want him to be buried with the others who fell with
him. I'm hoping that day will come, and I'm working towards it.