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The Cultural Revolution ended with chairman Mao Zedong's death in 1976 and the arrest of the Gang of Four. That movement, spearheaded by Mao, caused severe damage to the country's originally diverse economic and social fabric. The country was mired in poverty as economic production slowed or came to a halt.[citation needed] Political ideology was paramount in the lives of ordinary people as well as the inner workings of the Communist Party itself.

In September 1977, Deng Xiaoping proposed the idea of Boluan Fanzheng ("bringing order out of chaos") to correct the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution. At the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee, in December 1978, Deng emerged as China's de facto leader. He launched a comprehensive program to reform the Chinese economy (Reforms and Opening-up). Within several years, the country's focus on ideological purity was replaced by a concerted attempt to achieve material prosperity.

To oversee his reform agenda, Deng promoted his allies to top government and party posts. Zhao Ziyang was named Premier, the head of government, in September 1980, and Hu Yaobang became General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1982.

Challenges to Reforms and Opening-up

Deng's reforms aimed to decrease the role of the state in the economy and gradually allow private production in agriculture and industry. By 1981, roughly 73% of rural farms had been de-collectivized and 80% of state-owned enterprises were permitted to retain their profits. Within a few years, production increased and poverty was substantially reduced.[citation needed]

While the reforms were generally well received by the public, concerns grew over a series of social problems which the changes brought about, including corruption and nepotism on the part of elite party bureaucrats.[29] The state-mandated pricing system, in place since the 1950s, had long kept prices fixed at low levels. The initial reforms created a two-tier system where some prices were fixed while others were allowed to fluctuate. In a market with chronic shortages, price fluctuation allo

The Chinese Communist Party has used numerous names for the event since 1989, gradually using more neutral terminology.[24] As the events unfolded, it was labelled a "counterrevolutionary riot", which was later changed to simply "riot", followed by "political storm". Finally the leadership settled on the more neutral phrase "political turmoil between the Spring and Summer of 1989", which it uses to this day.[24][25]

Outside mainland China, and among circles critical of the crackdown within mainland China, the crackdown is commonly referred to in Chinese as "June Fourth Massacre" (六四屠殺; liù-sì túshā) and "June Fourth Crackdown" (六四鎮壓; liù-sì zhènyā). To bypass internet censorship in China, which uniformly considers all the above-mentioned names too "sensitive" for search engines and public forums, alternative names have sprung up to describe the events on the Internet, such as May 35th, VIIV (Roman numerals for 6 and 4), Eight Squared (i.e. 82=64)[26] and 8964 (i.e. yymd).[27]

In English, the terms "Tiananmen Square Massacre", "Tiananmen Square Protests", and "Tiananmen Square Crackdown" are often used to describe the series of events. However, much of the violence in Beijing did not actually happen in Tiananmen, but outside the square along a stretch of Chang'an Avenue only a few miles long, and especially near the Muxidi area.[28] The term also gives a misleading impression that demonstrations only happened in Beijing, when in fact they occurred in many cities throughout China.[14]

The Cultural Revolution ended with chairman Mao Zedong's death in 1976 and the arrest of the Gang of Four. That movement, spearheaded by Mao, caused severe damage to the country's originally diverse economic and social fabric. The country was mired in poverty as economic production slowed or came to a halt.[citation needed] Political ideology was paramount in the lives of ordinary people as well as the inner workings of the Communist Party itself.

In September 1977, Deng Xiaoping proposed the idea of Boluan Fanzheng ("bringing order out of chaos") to correct the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution. At the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee, in December 1978, Deng emerged as China's de facto leader. He launched a comprehensive program to reform the Chinese economy (Reforms and Opening-up). Within several years, the country's focus on ideological purity was replaced by a concerted attempt to achieve material prosperity.

To oversee his reform agenda, Deng promoted his allies to top government and party posts. Zhao Ziyang was named Premier, the head of government, in September 1980, and Hu Yaobang became General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1982.

Challenges to Reforms and Opening-up

Deng's reforms aimed to decrease the role of the state in the economy and gradually allow private production in agriculture and industry. By 1981, roughly 73% of rural farms had been de-collectivized and 80% of state-owned enterprises were permitted to retain their profits. Within a few years, production increased and poverty was substantially reduced.[citation needed]

While the reforms were generally well received by the public, concerns grew over a series of social problems which the changes brought about, including corruption and nepotism on the part of elite party bureaucrats.[29] The state-mandated pricing system, in place since the 1950s, had long kept prices fixed at low levels. The initial reforms created a two-tier system where some prices were fixed while others were allowed to fluctuate. In a market with chronic shortages, price fluctuation allowed people with powerful connections to buy goods at low prices and sell at market prices. Party bureaucrats in charge of economic management had enormous incentives to engage in such arbitrage.[30] Discontent over corruption reached a fever pitch with the public; and many, particularly intellectuals, began to believe that only democratic reform and the rule of law could cure the country's ills.[31]

Following the 1988 meeting at their summer retreat of Beidaihe, the party leadership under Deng agreed to implement a transition to a market-based pricing system.[32] News of the relaxation of price controls triggered waves of cash withdrawals, buying, and hoarding all over China.[32] The government panicked and rescinded the price reforms in less than two weeks, but there was a pronounced impact for much longer. Inflation soared: official indices reported that the Consumer Price Index increased by 30% in Beijing between 1987 and 1988, leading to panic among salaried workers that they could no longer afford staple goods.[33] Moreover, in the new market economy, unprofitable state-owned enterprises were pressured to cut costs. This threatened a vast proportion of the population which relied on the "iron rice bowl": i.e. social benefits such as job security, medical care, and subsidized housing.[33]

Social disenfranchisement and legitimacy crisis

In 1978, reformist leaders envisioned that intellectuals would play a leading role in guiding the country through reforms, but this did not happen as planned.[34] Despite the opening of new universities and increased enrollment,[35] the state-directed education system did not produce enough graduates to meet increased demand in the areas of agriculture, light industry, services, and foreign investment.[36] The job market was especially limited for students specializing in social sciences and the humanities.[35] Moreover, private companies no longer needed to accept students assigned to them by the state; and many high-paying jobs were offered on the basis of nepotism and favoritism.[37] Gaining a good state-assigned placement meant navigating a highly inefficient bureaucracy that gave power to officials who had little expertise in areas under their jurisdiction.[33] Facing a dismal job market and limited chances of going abroad, intellectuals and students had a greater vested interest in political issues. Small study groups, such as the "Democracy Salon" (Chinese: 民主沙龙; pinyin: Mínzhǔ Shālóng) and the "Lawn Salon" (草坪沙龙; Cǎodì Shālóng), began appearing on Beijing university campuses.[38] These organizations motivated the students to get involved politically.[32]

At the same time, the party's nominally socialist ideology faced a legitimacy crisis as it gradually adopted capitalist practices.[39] Private enterprise gave rise to profiteers who took advantage of lax regulations, and who often flaunted their wealth in front of those who were less well off.[33] Popular discontent was brewing over unfair wealth distribution. Greed, not skill, appeared to be the most crucial factor in success. There was widespread public disillusionment concerning the country's future. People wanted change, yet the power to define "the correct path" continued to rest solely in the hands of the unelected government.[39]

The comprehensive and wide-ranging reforms created political differences over the pace of marketization and the control over the ideology that came with it, opening a deep chasm within the central leadership. The reformers ("the right", led by Hu Yaobang) favoured political liberalization and a plurality of ideas as a channel to voice popular discontent, and pressed for further reforms. The conservatives ("the left", led by Chen Yun) said that the reforms had gone too far, and advocated a return to greater state control to ensure social stability and to better align with the party's socialist ideology. Both sides needed the backing of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to carry out important policy decisions.[40]

1986 student demonstrations

In mid-1986, astrophysics professor Fang Lizhi returned from a position at Princeton University and began a personal tour of universities in China, speaking about liberty, human rights, and the separation of powers. Fang was part of a wide undercurrent within the elite intellectual community that thought China's poverty and underdevelopment, and the disaster of the Cultural Revolution, were a direct result of China's authoritarian political system and rigid command economy.[41] The view that political reform was the only answer to China's ongoing problems gained widespread appeal among students, as Fang's recorded speeches became widely circulated throughout the country.[42] In response, Deng Xiaoping warned that Fang was blindly worshipping Western lifestyles, capitalism, and multi-party systems, while undermining China's socialist ideology, traditional values, and the party's leadership.[42]

In December 1986, inspired by Fang and other "people-power" movements around the world, student demonstrators staged protests against the slow pace of reform. The issues were wide-ranging, and included demands for economic liberalization, democracy, and the rule of law.[43] While the protests were initially contained in Hefei, where Fang lived, they quickly spread to Shanghai, Beijing, and other major cities. This alarmed the central leadership, who accused the students of instigating Cultural Revolution-style turmoil.

General secretary Hu Yaobang was blamed for showing a "soft" attitude and mishandling the protests, thus undermining social stability. He was denounced thoroughly by conservatives, and was forced to resign as general secretary on January 16, 1987. The party began the "Anti-bourgeois liberalization campaign", taking aim at Hu, political liberalization, and Western-inspired ideas in general.[44] The campaign stopped student protests and restricted political activity, but Hu remained popular among intellectuals, students, and Communist Party progressives.[45]

Political reforms

In September 1977, Deng Xiaoping proposed the idea of Boluan Fanzheng ("bringing order out of chaos") to correct the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution. At the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee, in December 1978, Deng emerged as China's de facto leader. He launched a comprehensive program to reform the Chinese economy (Reforms and Opening-up). Within several years, the country's focus on ideological purity was replaced by a concerted attempt to achieve material prosperity.

To oversee his reform agenda, Deng promoted his allies to top government and party posts. Zhao Ziyang was named Premier, the head of government, in September 1980, and Hu Yaobang became General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1982.

Deng's reforms aimed to decrease the role of the state in the economy and gradually allow private production in agriculture and industry. By 1981, roughly 73% of rural farms had been de-collectivized and 80% of state-owned enterprises were permitted to retain their profits. Within a few years, production increased and poverty was substantially reduced.[citation needed]

While the reforms were generally well received by the public, concerns grew over a series of social problems which the changes brought about, including corruption and nepotism on the part of elite party bureaucrats.While the reforms were generally well received by the public, concerns grew over a series of social problems which the changes brought about, including corruption and nepotism on the part of elite party bureaucrats.[29] The state-mandated pricing system, in place since the 1950s, had long kept prices fixed at low levels. The initial reforms created a two-tier system where some prices were fixed while others were allowed to fluctuate. In a market with chronic shortages, price fluctuation allowed people with powerful connections to buy goods at low prices and sell at market prices. Party bureaucrats in charge of economic management had enormous incentives to engage in such arbitrage.[30] Discontent over corruption reached a fever pitch with the public; and many, particularly intellectuals, began to believe that only democratic reform and the rule of law could cure the country's ills.[31]

Following the 1988 meeting at their summer retreat of Beidaihe, the party leadership under Deng agreed to implement a transition to a market-based pricing system.[32] News of the relaxation of price controls triggered waves of cash withdrawals, buying, and hoarding all over China.[32] The government panicked and rescinded the price reforms in less than two weeks, but there was a pronounced impact for much longer. Inflation soared: official indices reported that the Consumer Price Index increased by 30% in Beijing between 1987 and 1988, leading to panic among salaried workers that they could no longer afford staple goods.[33] Moreover, in the new market economy, unprofitable state-owned enterprises were pressured to cut costs. This threatened a vast proportion of the population which relied on the "iron rice bowl": i.e. social benefits such as job security, medical care, and subsidized housing.[33]

In 1978, reformist leaders envisioned that intellectuals would play a leading role in guiding the country through reforms, but this did not happen as planned.[34] Despite the opening of new universities and increased enrollment,[35] the state-directed education system did not produce enough graduates to meet increased demand in the areas of agriculture, light industry, services, and foreign investment.[36] The job market was especially limited for students specializing in social sciences and the humanities.[35] Moreover, private companies no longer needed to accept students assigned to them by the state; and many high-paying jobs were offered on the basis of nepotism and favoritism.[37] Gaining a good state-assigned placement meant navigating a highly inefficient bureaucracy that gave power to officials who had little expertise in areas under their jurisdiction.[33] Facing a dismal job market and limited chances of going abroad, intellectuals and students had a greater vested interest in political issues. Small study groups, such as the "Democracy Salon" (Chinese: 民主沙龙; pinyin: Mínzhǔ Shālóng) and the "Lawn Salon" (草坪沙龙; Cǎodì Shālóng), began appearing on Beijing university campuses.[38] These organizations motivated the students to get involved politically.[32]

At the same time, the party's nominally socialist ideology faced a legitimacy crisis as it gradually adopted capitalist practices.[39] Private enterprise gave rise to profiteers who took advantage of lax regulations, and who often flaunted their wealth in front of those who were less well off.[39] Private enterprise gave rise to profiteers who took advantage of lax regulations, and who often flaunted their wealth in front of those who were less well off.[33] Popular discontent was brewing over unfair wealth distribution. Greed, not skill, appeared to be the most crucial factor in success. There was widespread public disillusionment concerning the country's future. People wanted change, yet the power to define "the correct path" continued to rest solely in the hands of the unelected government.[39]

The comprehensive and wide-ranging reforms created political differences over the pace of marketization and the control over the ideology that came with it, opening a deep chasm within the central leadership. The reformers ("the right", led by Hu Yaobang) favoured political liberalization and a plurality of ideas as a channel to voice popular discontent, and pressed for further reforms. The conservatives ("the left", led by Chen Yun) said that the reforms had gone too far, and advocated a return to greater state control to ensure social stability and to better align with the party's socialist ideology. Both sides needed the backing of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to carry out important policy decisions.[40]

In mid-1986, astrophysics professor Fang Lizhi returned from a position at Princeton University and began a personal tour of universities in China, speaking about liberty, human rights, and the separation of powers. Fang was part of a wide undercurrent within the elite intellectual community that thought China's poverty and underdevelopment, and the disaster of the Cultural Revolution, were a direct result of China's authoritarian political system and rigid command economy.[41] The view that political reform was the only answer to China's ongoing problems gained widespread appeal among students, as Fang's recorded speeches became widely circulated throughout the country.[42] In response, Deng Xiaoping warned that Fang was blindly worshipping Western lifestyles, capitalism, and multi-party systems, while undermining China's socialist ideology, traditional values, and the party's leadership.[42]

In December 1986, inspired by Fang and other "people-power" movements around the world, student demonstrators staged protests against the slow pace of reform. The issues were wide-ranging, and included demands for economic liberalization, democracy, and the rule of law.[43] While the protests were initially contained in Hefei, where Fang lived, they quickly spread to Shanghai, Beijing, and other major cities. This alarmed the central

In December 1986, inspired by Fang and other "people-power" movements around the world, student demonstrators staged protests against the slow pace of reform. The issues were wide-ranging, and included demands for economic liberalization, democracy, and the rule of law.[43] While the protests were initially contained in Hefei, where Fang lived, they quickly spread to Shanghai, Beijing, and other major cities. This alarmed the central leadership, who accused the students of instigating Cultural Revolution-style turmoil.

General secretary Hu Yaobang was blamed for showing a "soft" attitude and mishandling the protests, thus undermining social stability. He was denounced thoroughly by conservatives, and was forced to resign as general secretary on January 16, 1987. The party began the "Anti-bourgeois liberalization campaign", taking aim at Hu, political liberalization, and Western-inspired ideas in general.[44] The campaign stopped student protests and restricted political activity, but Hu remained popular among intellectuals, students, and Communist Party progressives.[45]

On August 18, 1980, Deng Xiaoping gave a speech titled "On the Reform of the Party and State Leadership System" ("党和国家领导制度改革") at a full meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in Beijing, launching political reforms in China.[46][47][48] He called for a systematic revision of China's constitution, criticizing bureaucracy, centralization of power, and patriarchy, while proposing term limits for the leading positions in China and advocating "democratic centralism" and "collective leadership."[46][47][48] In December 1982, the fourth and current Constitution of China, known as the "1982 Constitution", was passed by the 5th National People's Congress.[49][50]

In the first half of 1986, Deng repeatedly called for the revival of political reforms, as further economic reforms were hindered by the original political system with an increasing trend of corruption and economic inequality.[51][52] A five-man committee to study the feasibility of political reform was established in September 1986; the members included Zhao Ziyang, Hu Qili, Tian Jiyun, Bo Yibo and Peng Chong.[53][54] Deng's intention was to boost administrative efficiency, further separate responsibilities of the Party and the government, and eliminate bureaucracy.[55]corruption and economic inequality.[51][52] A five-man committee to study the feasibility of political reform was established in September 1986; the members included Zhao Ziyang, Hu Qili, Tian Jiyun, Bo Yibo and Peng Chong.[53][54] Deng's intention was to boost administrative efficiency, further separate responsibilities of the Party and the government, and eliminate bureaucracy.[55][56] Although he spoke in terms of the rule of law and democracy, Deng delimited the reforms within the one-party system and opposed the implementation of Western-style constitutionalism.[56][57]

In October 1987, at the 13th National Congress of the CPC, Zhao Ziyang gave a report drafted by Bao Tong on the political reforms.[58][59] In his speech titled "Advance Along the Road of Socialism with Chinese characteristics" ("沿着有中国特色的社会主义道路前进"), Zhao argued that socialism in China was still in its primary stage and, taking Deng's speech in 1980 as a guideline, detailed steps to be taken for political reform, including promoting the rule of law and the separation of powers, imposing de-centralization, and improving the election system.[55][58][59] At this Congress, Zhao was elected to be the General Secretary of the CPC.[60]

When Hu Yaobang suddenly died of a heart attack on April 15, 1989, students reacted strongly, most of them believing that his death was related to his forced resignation.[61] Hu's death provided the initial impetus for students to gather in large numbers.[62] On university campuses, many posters appeared eulogizing Hu, calling for honoring Hu's legacy. Within days, most posters were about broader political issues, such as corruption, democracy, and freedom of the press.[63] Small, spontaneous gatherings to mourn Hu began on April 15 around the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square. On the same day, many students at Peking University (PKU) and Tsinghua University erected shrines and joined the gathering in Tiananmen Square in a piecemeal fashion.[clarification needed] Small, organized student gatherings also took place in Xi'an and Shanghai on April 16. On April 17, students at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) made a large wreath to commemorate Hu Yaobang. Its wreath-laying ceremony was on April 17 and a larger-than-expected crowd assembled.[64] At 5 pm, 500 CUPL students reached the eastern gate of the Great Hall of the People, near Tiananmen Square, to mourn Hu. The gathering featured speakers from various backgrounds who gave public orations commemorating Hu and discussed social problems. However, it was soon deemed obstructive to the operation of the Great Hall, so police tried to persuade the students to disperse.

Starting on the night of April 17, three thousand PKU students marched from the campus towards Tiananmen Square, and soon nearly a thousand students from Tsinghua joined. Upon arrival, they soon joined forces with those already gathered at the Square. As its size grew, the gathering gradually evolved into a protest, as students began to draft a list of pleas and suggestions (the Seven Demands) for the government:

  1. Affirm Hu Yaobang's views on democracy and freedom as correct.
  2. Admit that the campaigns against spiritual pollution and bourgeois liberalization had been wrong.
  3. Publish information on the income of state leaders and their family members.
  4. Allow privately-run newspapers and stop press censorship.
  5. Increase funding for education and raise intellectuals' pay.
  6. End restrictions on demonstrations in Beijing.
  7. Provide objective coverage of students in official media.[65][64]

On the morning of April 18, students remained in the Square. Some gathered around the Monument to the People's Heroes singing patriotic songs and listening to impromptu speeches by student organizers, others gathered at the Great Hall. Meanwhile, a few thousand students gathered at Xinhua Gate, the entrance to Zhongnanhai, the seat of the party leadership, where they demanded dialogue with the leadership. After police restrained the students from entering the compound, the students staged a sit-in.

On April 20, most students had been persuaded to leave Xinhua Gate. To disperse about 200 students that remained, police used batons; minor clashes were reported. Many students felt abused by the police, and rumours about police brutality spread quickly. The incident angered students on campus, where those who were not politically active decided to join the protests.[66] Additionally, a group of workers calling themselves the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation issued two handbills challenging the central leadership.[67&

Starting on the night of April 17, three thousand PKU students marched from the campus towards Tiananmen Square, and soon nearly a thousand students from Tsinghua joined. Upon arrival, they soon joined forces with those already gathered at the Square. As its size grew, the gathering gradually evolved into a protest, as students began to draft a list of pleas and suggestions (the Seven Demands) for the government:

On the morning of April 18, students remained in the Square. Some gathered around the Monument to the People's Heroes singing patriotic songs and listening to impromptu speeches by student organizers, others gathered at the Great Hall. Meanwhile, a few thousand students gathered at Xinhua Gate, the entrance to Zhongnanhai, the seat of the party leadership, where they demanded dialogue with the leadership. After police restrained the students from entering the compound, the students staged a sit-in.

On April 20, most students had been persuaded to leave Xinhua Gate. To disperse about 200 students that remained, police used batons; minor clashes were reported. Many students felt abused by the police, and rumours about police brutality spread quickly. The incident angered students on campus, where those who were not politically active decided to join the protests.[66] Additionally, a group of workers calling themselves the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation issued two handbills challenging the central leadership.

On April 20, most students had been persuaded to leave Xinhua Gate. To disperse about 200 students that remained, police used batons; minor clashes were reported. Many students felt abused by the police, and rumours about police brutality spread quickly. The incident angered students on campus, where those who were not politically active decided to join the protests.[66] Additionally, a group of workers calling themselves the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation issued two handbills challenging the central leadership.[67]

Hu's state funeral took place on April 22. On the evening of April 21, some 100,000 students marched on Tiananmen Square, ignoring orders from Beijing municipal authorities that the Square was to be closed for the funeral. The funeral, which took place inside the Great Hall and was attended by the leadership, was broadcast live to the students. General secretary Zhao Ziyang delivered the eulogy. The funeral seemed rushed, lasting only 40 minutes, as emotions ran high in the Square.[40][68][69]

Security cordoned off the east entrance to the Great Hall of the People, but several students pressed forward. A few were allowed to cross the police line. Three of these students (Zhou Yongjun, Guo Haifeng, and Zhang Zhiyong) knelt on the steps of the Great Hall to present a petition and demanded to see Premier Li Peng.[70][a] Standing beside them, a fourth student (Wu'erkaixi) made a brief, emotional speech begging for Li Peng to come out and speak with them. The larger number of students still in the Square but outside the cordon were at times emotional, shouting demands or slogans and rushing toward police. Wu'erkaixi calmed the crowd as they waited for the Premier to emerge. However, no leaders emerged from the Great Hall, leaving the students disappointed and angry; some called for a classroom boycott.[70]

On April 21, students began organizing under the banners of formal organizations. On April 23, in a meeting of around 40 students from 21 universities, the Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation (also known as the Union) was formed. It elected CUPL student Zhou Yongjun as chair. Wang Dan and Wu'erkaixi also emerged as leaders. The Union then called for a general classroom boycott at all Beijing universities. Such an independent organization operating outside of party jurisdiction alarmed the leadership.[73]

On April 22, near dusk, serious rioting broke out in Changsha and Xi'an. In Xi'an, arson by rioters destroyed cars and houses, and looting occurred in shops near the city's Xihua Gate. In Changsha, 38 stores were ransacked by looters. Over 350 people were arrested in both cities. In Wuhan, university students organized protests against the provincial government. As the situation became more volatile nationally, Zhao Ziyang called numerous meetings of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC). Zhao stressed three points: discourage students from further protests and ask them to go back to class, use all measures necessary to combat rioting, and open forms of dialogue with students at different levels of government.[74] Premier Li Peng called upon Zhao to condemn protestors and recognize the need to take more serious action. Zhao dismissed Li's views. Despite calls for him to remain in Beijing, Zhao left for a scheduled state visit to North Korea on April 23.[75]

Zhao's departure to North Korea left Li Peng as the acting executive authority in Beijing. On April 24, Li Peng and the PSC met with Beijing Party Secretary Li Ximing and mayor Chen Xitong to gauge the situation at the Square. The municipal officials wanted a quick resolution to the crisis and framed the protests as a conspiracy to overthrow China's political system and major party leaders, including Deng Xiaoping. In Zhao's absence, the PSC agreed to take firm action against the protesters.[75] On the morning of April 25, President Yang Shangkun and Premier Li Peng met with Deng at the latter's residence. Deng endorsed a hardline stance and said an appropriate warning must be disseminated via mass media to curb further demonstrations.[76] The meeting firmly established the first official evaluation of the protests, and highlighted Deng's having "final say" on important issues. Li Peng subsequently ordered Deng's views to be drafted as a communique and issued to all high-level Communist Party officials in an effort to mobilize the party apparatus against protesters.

On April 26, the party's official newspaper People's Daily issued a front-page editorial titled "It is necessary to take a clear-cut stand against disturbances". The language in the editorial effectively branded the student movement to be an anti-party, anti-government revolt.[77] The editorial invoked memories of the Cultural Revolution, using similar rhetoric that had been used during the 1976 Tiananmen Incident—an event that was initially branded an anti-government conspiracy but was later rehabilitated as "patriotic" under Deng's leadership.[40] The article enraged students, who interpreted it as a direct indictment of the protests and its cause. The editorial backfired: instead of scaring students into submission, it antagonized the students and put them squarely against the government.[78] The polarizing nature of the editorial made it a major sticking point for the remainder of the protests.[76]

April 27 demonstrations

Organized by the Union, on April 27 some 50,000–100,000 students from all Beijing universities marched through the streets of the capital to Tiananmen Square, break

On April 26, the party's official newspaper People's Daily issued a front-page editorial titled "It is necessary to take a clear-cut stand against disturbances". The language in the editorial effectively branded the student movement to be an anti-party, anti-government revolt.[77] The editorial invoked memories of the Cultural Revolution, using similar rhetoric that had been used during the 1976 Tiananmen Incident—an event that was initially branded an anti-government conspiracy but was later rehabilitated as "patriotic" under Deng's leadership.[40] The article enraged students, who interpreted it as a direct indictment of the protests and its cause. The editorial backfired: instead of scaring students into submission, it antagonized the students and put them squarely against the government.[78] The polarizing nature of the editorial made it a major sticking point for the remainder of the protests.[76]

Organized by the Union, on April 27 some 50,000–100,000 students from all Beijing universities marched through the streets of the capital to Tiananmen Square, breaking through lines set up by police, and receiving widespread public support along the way, particularly from factory workers.[40] The student leaders, eager to show the patriotic nature of the movement, also toned down anti-Communist slogans, choosing to present a message of "anti-corruption" and "anti-cronyism", but "pro-party".[78] In a twist of irony, student factions who genuinely called for the overthrow of the Communist Party gained traction as the result of the April 26 editorial.[78]

The stunning success of the march forced the government into making concessions and meeting with student representatives. On April 29, State Council spokesman Yuan Mu met with appointed representatives of government-sanctioned student associations. While the talks discussed a wide range of issues, including the editorial, the Xinhua Gate incident and freedom of the press, they achieved few substantive results. Independent student leaders such as Wu'erkaixi refused to attend.[79]

The government's tone grew increasingly conciliatory when Zhao Ziyang returned from Pyongyang on April 30 and reasserted his authority. In Zhao's view, the hardliner approach was not working, and concession was the only alternative.[80] Zhao asked that the press be allowed to report the movement positively, and delivered two sympathetic speeches on May 3–4. In the speeches, Zhao said that the students' concerns about corruption were legitimate, and that the student movement was patriotic in n

The stunning success of the march forced the government into making concessions and meeting with student representatives. On April 29, State Council spokesman Yuan Mu met with appointed representatives of government-sanctioned student associations. While the talks discussed a wide range of issues, including the editorial, the Xinhua Gate incident and freedom of the press, they achieved few substantive results. Independent student leaders such as Wu'erkaixi refused to attend.[79]

The government's tone grew increasingly conciliatory when Zhao Ziyang returned from Pyongyang on April 30 and reasserted his authority. In Zhao's view, the hardliner approach was not working, and concession was the only alternative.[80] Zhao asked that the press be allowed to report the movement positively, and delivered two sympathetic speeches on May 3–4. In the speeches, Zhao said that the students' concerns about corruption were legitimate, and that the student movement was patriotic in nature.[81] The speeches essentially negated the message presented by the April 26 Editorial. While some 100,000 students marched on the streets of Beijing on May 4 to commemorate the May Fourth Movement and repeated demands from earlier marches, many students were satisfied with the government's concessions. On May 4, all Beijing universities except PKU and BNU announced the end of the classroom boycott. Subsequently, the majority of students began to lose interest in the movement.[82]

The government was divided on how to respond to the movement as early as mid-April. After Zhao Ziyang's return from North Korea, tensions between the progressive camp and the conservative camp intensified. Those who supported continued dialogue and a soft approach with students rallied behind Zhao Ziyang, while hardliner conservatives who opposed the movement rallied behind Premier Li Peng. Zhao and Li clashed at a PSC meeting on 1 May. Li maintained that the need for stability overrode all else, while Zhao said that the party should show support for increased democracy and transparency. Zhao pushed the case for further dialogue.[81]

In preparation for dialogue, the Union elected representatives to a formal delegation. There was some friction, however, as the Union leaders were reluctant to let the delegation unilaterally take control of the movement.[83] The movement was slowed by a change to a more deliberate approach, fractured by internal discord, and increasingly diluted by declining engagement from the student body at large. In this context, a group of charismatic leaders, including Wang Dan and Wu'erkaixi, desired to regain momentum. They also distrusted the government's offers of dialogue, dismissing them as merely a ploy designed to play for time and pacify the students. To break from the moderate and incremental approach now adopted by other major student leaders, these few began calling for a return to more confrontational tactics. They settled on a plan of mobilizing students for a hunger strike that would begin on May 13.[83] The movement was slowed by a change to a more deliberate approach, fractured by internal discord, and increasingly diluted by declining engagement from the student body at large. In this context, a group of charismatic leaders, including Wang Dan and Wu'erkaixi, desired to regain momentum. They also distrusted the government's offers of dialogue, dismissing them as merely a ploy designed to play for time and pacify the students. To break from the moderate and incremental approach now adopted by other major student leaders, these few began calling for a return to more confrontational tactics. They settled on a plan of mobilizing students for a hunger strike that would begin on May 13.[84] Early attempts to mobilize others to join them met with only modest success until Chai Ling made an emotional appeal on the night before the strike was scheduled to begin.[85]

Students began the hunger strike on 13 May, two days before the highly publicized state visit by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Knowing that the welcoming ceremony for Gorbachev was scheduled to be held on the Square, student leaders wanted to use the hunger strike there to force the government into meeting their demands. Moreover, the hunger strike gained widespread sympathy from the population at large and earned the student movement the moral high ground that it sought.[86] By the afternoon of 13 May, some 300,000 were gathered at the Square.[87]

Inspired by the course of events in Beijing, protests and strikes began at universities in other cities, with many students traveling to Beijing to join the demonstration. Generally, the demonstration at Tiananmen Square was well ordered, with daily marches of students from various Beijing-area colleges displaying their support of the classroom boycott and the demands of the protesters. The students sang The Internationale, the world socialist anthem, on their way to, and while at, the square.[88]

Afraid that the movement would spin out of control, Deng Xiaoping ordered the Square to be cleared for Gorbachev's visit. Executing Deng's request, Zhao again used a soft approach, and directed his subordinates to coordinate negotiations with students immediately.[86] Zhao believed he could appeal to the students' patriotism, and that the students understood that signs of internal turmoil during the Sino-Soviet summit would embarrass the nation and not just the government. On the morning of 13 May, Yan Mingfu, head of the Communist Party's United Front, called an emergency meeting, gathering prominent student leaders and intellectuals, including Liu Xiaobo, Chen Ziming, and Wang Juntao.[89] Y

Inspired by the course of events in Beijing, protests and strikes began at universities in other cities, with many students traveling to Beijing to join the demonstration. Generally, the demonstration at Tiananmen Square was well ordered, with daily marches of students from various Beijing-area colleges displaying their support of the classroom boycott and the demands of the protesters. The students sang The Internationale, the world socialist anthem, on their way to, and while at, the square.[88]

Afraid that the movement would spin out of control, Deng Xiaoping ordered the Square to be cleared for Gorbachev's visit. Executing Deng's request, Zhao again used a soft approach, and directed his subordinates to coordinate negotiations with students immediately.[86] Zhao believed he could appeal to the students' patriotism, and that the students understood that signs of internal turmoil during the Sino-Soviet summit would embarrass the nation and not just the government. On the morning of 13 May, Yan Mingfu, head of the Communist Party's United Front, called an emergency meeting, gathering prominent student leaders and intellectuals, including Liu Xiaobo, Chen Ziming, and Wang Juntao.[89] Yan said that the government was prepared to hold an immediate dialogue with student representatives, but that the Tiananmen welcoming ceremony for Gorbachev would be cancelled whether or not the students withdrew—in effect removing the bargaining power the students thought they possessed. The announcement sent the student leadership into disarray.[90]

Press restrictions were loosened significantly from early to mid May. State media began broadcasting footage sympathetic to protesters and the movement, including the hunger strikers. On May 14, intellectuals led by Dai Qing gained permission from Hu Qili to bypass government censorship and air the progressive views of the nation's intellectuals in the Guangming Daily. The intellectuals then issued an urgent appeal for the students to leave the Square in an attempt to deescalate the conflict.[87] However, many students believed that the intellectuals were speaking for the government, and refused to move. That evening, formal negotiations took place between government representatives led by Yan Mingfu and student representatives led by Shen Tong and Xiang Xiaoji. Yan affirmed the patriotic nature of the student movement and pleaded for the students to withdraw from the Square.[90] While Yan's apparent sincerity for compromise satisfied some students, the meeting grew increasingly chaotic as competing student factions relayed uncoordinated and incoherent demands to the leadership. Shortly after student leaders learned that the event had not been broadcast nationally, as initially promised by the government, the meeting fell apart.[91] Yan then personally went to the Square to appeal to the students, even offering himself to be held hostage.[40] Yan also took the student's pleas to Li Peng the next day, asking Li to consider formally retracting the April 26 Editorial and rebranding the movement as "patriotic and democratic"; Li refused.[92]

The students remained in the Square during the Gorbachev visit; his welcoming ceremony was held at the airport. The Sino-Soviet summit, the first of its kind in some 30 years, marked the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations, and was seen as a breakthrough of tremendous historical significance for China's leaders. However, its smooth proceedings were derailed by the student movement; this created a major embarrassment ("loss of face")some 30 years, marked the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations, and was seen as a breakthrough of tremendous historical significance for China's leaders. However, its smooth proceedings were derailed by the student movement; this created a major embarrassment ("loss of face")[93] for the leadership on the global stage, and drove many moderates in government onto a more hardline path.[94] The summit between Deng and Gorbachev took place at the Great Hall of the People amid the backdrop of commotion and protest in the Square.[86] When Gorbachev met with Zhao on May 16, Zhao told him, and by extension the international press, that Deng was still the "paramount authority" in China. Deng felt that this remark was Zhao's attempt to shift blame for mishandling the movement to him. Zhao's defense against this accusation was that privately informing world leaders that Deng was the true center of power was standard operating procedure; Li Peng had made nearly identical private statements to US president George H.W. Bush in February 1989.[95] Nevertheless, the statement marked a decisive split between the country's two most senior leaders.[86]

The hunger strike galvanized support for the students and aroused sympathy across the country. Around a million Beijing residents from all walks of life demonstrated in solidarity from May 17 to 18. These included PLA personnel, police officers, and lower party officials.[11] Many grassroots Party and Youth League organizations, as well as government-sponsored labour unions, encouraged their membership to demonstrate.[11] In addition, several of China's non-Communist parties sent a letter to Li Peng in support of the students. The Chinese Red Cross issued a special notice and sent in a large number of personnel to provide medical services to the hunger strikers on the Square. After the departure of Mikhail Gorbachev, many foreign journalists remained in the Chinese capital to cover the protests, shining an international spotlight on the movement. Western governments urged Beijing to exercise restraint.

The movement, on the wane at the end of April, now regained momentum. By May 17, as students from across the country poured into the capital to join the movement, protests of various sizes were occurring in some 400 Chinese cities.[13]The movement, on the wane at the end of April, now regained momentum. By May 17, as students from across the country poured into the capital to join the movement, protests of various sizes were occurring in some 400 Chinese cities.[13] Students demonstrated at provincial party headquarters in Fujian, Hubei, and Xinjiang. Without a clearly articulated official position from the Beijing leadership, local authorities did not know how to respond. Because the demonstrations now included a wide array of social groups, each having its own set of grievances, it became increasingly unclear with whom the government should negotiate, and what the demands were. The government, still split on how to deal with the movement, saw its authority and legitimacy gradually erode as the hunger strikers took the limelight and gained widespread sympathy.[11] These combined circumstances put immense pressure on the authorities to act, and martial law was discussed as an appropriate response.[96]

The situation seemed intractable and the weight of taking decisive action fell on paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Matters came to a head on May 17 during a Politburo Standing Committee meeting at Deng's residence.[97] At the meeting, Zhao Ziyang's concessions-based strategy, which called for the retraction of the April 26 Editorial, was thoroughly criticized.[98] Li Peng, Yao Yilin, and Deng asserted that by making a conciliatory speech to the Asian Development Bank, on May 4, Zhao had exposed divisions within the top leadership and emboldened the students.[98][99][100] Deng warned that "there is no way to back down now without the situation spiraling out of control", and so "the decision is to move troops into Beijing to declare martial law"[101] as a show of the government's no-tolerance stance.[98] To justify martial law, the demonstrators were described as tools of "bourgeois liberalism" advocates who were pulling the strings behind the scenes, as well as tools of elements within the party who wished to further their personal ambitions.[102] For the rest of his life, Zhao Ziyang maintained that the decision was ultimately in Deng's hands: among the five PSC members present at the meeting, he and Hu Qili opposed the imposition of martial law, Li Peng and Yao Yilin firmly supported it, and Qiao Shi remained carefully neutral and noncommittal. Deng appointed the latter three to carry out the decision.[103]

On the evening of May 17, the PSC met at Zhongnanhai to finalize plans for martial law. At the meeting, Zhao announced that he was ready to "take leave", citing he could not bring himself to carry out martial law.[98] The elders in attendance at the meeting, Bo Yibo and Yang Shangkun, urged the PSC to follow Deng's orders.[98] Zhao did not consider the inconclusive PSC vote to have legally binding implications for martial law;[104] Yang Shangkun, in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, mobilized the military to move into the capital.

Li Peng met with students for the first time on May 18 in an attempt to placate public concern over the hunger strike.[96] During the talks, student leaders again demanded that the government rescind the April 26 Editorial and affirm the student movement as "patriotic". Li Peng said the government's main concern was sending the hunger strikers to hospitals. The discussions were confrontational and yielded little substantive progress,[105] but gained student leaders prominent airtime on national television.[106] By this point, those calling for the overthrow of the party and of Li Peng and Deng became prominent both in Beijing and in other cities.[107] Slogans targeted Deng personally, for instance calling him the "power behind the throne".[108]

In the early morning of May 19, Zhao Ziyang went to Tiananmen in what became his political swan song. He was accompanied by Wen Jiabao. Li Peng also went to the Square, but left shortly thereafter. At 4:50 am Zhao made a speech with a bullhorn to a crowd of students, urging the students to end the hunger strike.[109] He told the students that they were still young and urged them to stay healthy and not to sacrifice themselves without due concern for their futures. Zhao's emotional speech was applauded by some students. It would be his last public appearance.[109]