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Remembering the Tiananmen Square Protests, 27 Years Later

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, commonly known in Chinese as the June Fourth Incident or '89 Democracy Movement were student-led popular demonstrations in Beijing which took place in the first half of 1989 and received broad support from city residents, exposing deep splits within China's political leadership. The protests were forcibly suppressed by hardline leaders who ordered the military to enforce martial law in the country's capital. The crackdown that initiated on June 3–4 became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre or the June 4 Massacre as troops with assault rifles and tanks killed unarmed civilians trying to block the military's advance towards Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, which students and other demonstrators had occupied for seven weeks. The number of civilian deaths has been estimated at anywhere between hundreds and thousands. The Chinese government condemned the protests as a counter-revolutionary riot, and has largely prohibited discussion and remembrance of the events.
The protests were triggered in April 1989 by the death of former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, a liberal reformer who was deposed after losing a power struggle with hardliners over the direction of political and economic reforms. University students marched and gathered in Tiananmen Square to mourn. Hu had also voiced grievances against inflation, limited career prospects, and corruption of the party elite. The protesters called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers' control over industry.  At the height of the protests, about a million people assembled in the Square, most of them university students in Beijing.
The protests were triggered in April 1989 by the death of former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, a liberal reformer who was deposed after losing a power struggle with hardliners over the direction of political and economic reforms. University students marched and gathered in Tiananmen Square to mourn. Hu had also voiced grievances against inflation, limited career prospects, and corruption of the party elite. The protesters called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers' control over industry. At the height of the protests, about a million people assembled in the Square,  most of them university students in Beijing.
In the aftermath of the crackdown, the government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press. The police and internal security forces were strengthened. Officials deemed sympathetic to the protests were demoted or purged.  Zhao Ziyang was ousted in a party leadership reshuffle and replaced with Jiang Zemin. Political reforms were largely halted and economic reforms did not resume until Deng Xiaoping's 1992 southern tour. The Chinese government was widely condemned internationally for the use of force against the protesters. Western governments imposed economic sanctions and arms embargoes. People around the world were aware of the protests and their suppression because of unprecedented media coverage of them.


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