The Tiananmen Square massacre was the brutal suppression of student-led protests against the Chinese authoritarian rule in the spring of 1989.

These protests were being held in Tiananmen Square, one of Beijing’s most famous landmarks.



Ironically, Tiananmen means “gate of heavenly peace.”

What led to these protests?

At the heart of the protests, was the flawed economic reforms in China during the 1980s.

They had benefited upper sections of the society, but seriously disaffected poor and working-class Chinese who faced lack of jobs and increased poverty.



They were also angry over inflation, corruption, and restrictions on political participation.

Demanding a change, students led demonstrations began at the Tiananmen Square calling for democracy, greater accountability and freedom of speech.



Later, thousands of people also joined the students inspiring similar strikes and protests across China.

These protests were further ignited by the death of Hu Yaobang, a pro-reform leader of the ruling Communist Party who had overseen some of the economic and political changes.

Eventually, the number of protestors assembled in the Square rose to about 1 million.



How the govt. responded?

Initially, the Chinese govt. adopted wait and watch policy.

But as the movement grew, it declared martial law and sent 2.5 lakh troops into Beijing to crush the dissent.

On June 4, police and soldiers armed with assault rifles and tanks stormed the Square to regain control of the area.


However, as demonstrators surrounded military vehicles, they were fired upon with live ammunition.

The Casualty Figure

No-one knows for sure how many people were killed and estimates range from several hundred to several thousand.

Also, dozens of people were later executed for their part in the demonstrations.

How the world reacted?

The international community and human rights organizations sharply condemned the Chinese govt. for this massacre.

Many western countries imposed economic sanctions and arms embargoes on China.

Still a Taboo in China

Discussion of the Tiananmen Square incidents is still a highly sensitive subject in China.

As the govt. has a tight control over the internet, it regularly removes all the posts relating to the massacre.



P.S: what happened to the ‘Tank Man’?

It’s not known what happened to that person, but he became the defining image of those protests.

Time magazine later named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.