Tiananmen Square – 35 years on

Published: 28th March 2024

20th-century Chinese history is both terrifying and fascinating; it is often overlooked by many or simply seen through an East-West Cold War prism. This has sometimes led to people in the West viewing the Chinese people as unfathomable communist groups and without individuality. Therefore, when serious acts of rebellion against the Chinese State do occur it is often headline news – especially when those acts take place in the very heart of Beijing.

From 15 April until 4 June 1989, student demonstrations were held in Tiananmen Square in the very centre of Beijing. The students wanted greater freedoms for Chinese society and social reforms. The Communist leadership tried a number of tactics to stop the demonstrations, eventually releasing the army – including tanks – against the demonstrators. In the end the Chinese State won but the images of young people standing up to tanks in the very centre of Tiananmen square changed global attitudes to the people of China.