• Wed
  • Oct 15, 2014
  • Updated: 5:49pm
Infographics ANNIVERSARY

Voices from Tiananmen: Eyewitnesses look back to the spring of 1989

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 September, 2014, 9:35am


June 4, 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by students and residents in Beijing. Hundreds of people were killed and many more were wounded when People's Liberation Army units rolled into Tiananmen Square, ending more than a month of peaceful protests seeking political reforms.

Former government officials, student leaders and other eyewitnesses revisit the momentous events of spring, 1989. These personal accounts, gathered from recent video interviews, as well as memoirs, shed new light on the hope and despair left by those days, which continue to haunt China a quarter century later.

Click here to access the 13-part multimedia series


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No Chinese likes what happened on June 4. Can anyone tell me what China would be like otherwise, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Russia before Putin?
No Chinese likes what happened on June 4. Can anyone tell me what China would be like otherwise, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Russia before Putin?
This is the dumbest question asked in one form or another by airhead readers: "Why can't China let its people and the world know the truth about Tiananmen?"
For such morons, I have a few more stupid ones in store for you.
Why doesn't the US come clean with the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that booted Chinese immigrants out of America?
Why doesn't the US acknowledge the pretext used in 1964 for bombing the Gulf of Tonkin -- attack on its two destroyers -- was fabricated? USS Turner Joy radar system wasn’t even working that day. The war killed over 3 million Vietnamese.
Answer: This is the way all governments work. Why just pick on China?
Why did the Church not own up that Galileo inquisition was wrong? It finally did, after almost 400 years.
Many teach children lies everyday that make them stupid. Could 5 loaves and two fish feed 5000? You should challenge that too.
Here is likely most the truth about 6/4. Beijing rioters, not just students’ protesters, posted an existential threat to the nation, now under a divided Party. People’s livelihoods were not much improved since the Red Guards. China was at a lower industrial base than India's. The commander of the 38th Army even refused to order his soldiers into Beijing streets. Many CCP leaders had different opinions. There was no clear consensus on how to restore law and order. Fortunately, Deng Xiaoping gave the order.
It was the only right decision. China is here to stay and will prosper.
With so much information available today, we are pretty sure who the cast of pro and con decision makers were. Obviously, Li Peng called for tough actions and Zhao Ziyang, reconciliations with naïve students who had no other clue about the national crisis -- part of their own making -- except raw passions.

It’s the kind of heated disagreements one expects to see and hear from strong-willed leaders. But we already know this. If Beijing gave a truthful account similar to what I stated earlier, what purpose does it serve except fodders for more media lies? Let the sleeping dog lie for another 2 decades is probably as good decision as any. 平反六四 should have a simple meaning: Stop all lies about student massacre at Tiananmen Square.

I was totally wrong too during 1989. I thought what China did would lead to chaos. With the information I possess now, I am glad Deng Xiaoping’s heroic decision saved the nation. We actually purged the nation of lingering doubts that order and national construction are for real.

If you are not addicted to this ideological opiate – populist rule is the End of History, you’re likely to take so-called Democracy as just another phase of ineluctable rise and fall of all empires. This ubiquitous decline is happening in all democracies even as I speak.

China is on the ascent. China haters can eat your heart out. China rising for how long? Who knows.
Those were involved are divided. Those that were born in 1989 or after 1979 still have NO clue that happened in 1989 - they were told by somebody, that somebody was told by somebody and that somebody was again told by somebody....depends on the messenger(s) and how it was being spinned especially by the Western media...let our fantasy ride. Stopping the riot or the coup in 1989 by Western nations SAVE China from becoming the 51st State of the United States. Whether it is good or bad NOT becoming the 51st State of America...we need to ask the people in China today.
Just one correction: Not the 51st state of the US but another vassal state lowest on the totem pole under one Western hegemon.
'Brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by students and residents in Beijing'. Why does the press never mention the 'brutality' caused by the supposedly peaceful demonstrators? I could send you some evidences, but the forum doesn't let me post.
I was fooled by the western staged 'news' at the time and until recently.
The Myth of Tiananmen and the price of a passive press
One may or may not agree on a communist state, but one must insist that the truth be told.
Did SCMP censor some comments?
It is a sad reflection that the comments are so insensitive to feelings of those who were slaughtered. There is plenty of information on the net that covers what happened. I suggest that people catch Sky News on NOWTV as they are discussing the very fact that the young man who so bravely stood in front of the tank did so putting his life in peril in the process and when the tanks first rolled in. Guys, you are showing your lack of awareness and education here in doubting that the western press is incorrect. You are making the point why we need to defend freedom of education from mainland interference!