THIS DAY IN HISTORY
- Tiananmen Square -
With protests for democratic reforms entering their seventh week, the Chinese government authorizes its soldiers and tanks to reclaim Beijing’s Tiananmen Square at all costs. By nightfall on June 4, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared the square, killing hundreds and arresting thousands of demonstrators and suspected dissidents.
On April 15, the death of Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party head who supported democratic reforms, roused some 100,000 students to gather at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate the leader and voice their discontent with China’s authoritative government. On April 22, an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang was held in Tiananmen’s Great Hall of the People, and student representatives carried a petition to the steps of the Great Hall, demanding to meet with Premier Li Peng. The Chinese government refused the meeting, leading to a general boycott of Chinese universities across the country and widespread calls for democratic reforms.
Ignoring government warnings of suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen on April 27. The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, and by mid-May more than a million people filled the square, the site of Mao Zedong’s proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
On May 20, the government formally declared martial law in Beijing, and troops and tanks were called in to disperse the dissidents. However, large numbers of students and citizens blocked the army’s advance, and by May 23 government forces had pulled back to the outskirts of Beijing. On June 3, with negotiations to end the protests stalled and calls for democratic reforms escalating, the troops received orders from the Chinese government to seize control of Tiananmen Square and the streets of Beijing. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested.
In the weeks after the government crackdown, an unknown number of dissidents were executed, and hard-liners in the government took firm control of the country. The international community was outraged by the incident, and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries sent China’s economy into decline. By late 1990, however, international trade had resumed, thanks in part to China’s release of several hundred imprisoned dissidents.
Also on this day in history …
- American Revolution
- 1780 Former Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson dies in England
- 1957 U.S. Supreme Court rules against Du Pont in General Motors suit
- Civil War
- 1864 Union disaster at Cold Harbor
- Cold War
- 1990 Bush and Gorbachev end second summit meeting
- 2010 Van der Sloot arrested for murder in South America
- 1989 Natural gas explosion kills 500 in Russia
- General Interest
- 1800 President Adams settles in new capital
- 1937 Duke of Windsor weds
- 1965 An American walks in space
- 2002 Lew Wasserman dies
- 1936 Larry McMurtry is born
- 1956 Rock and roll is banned in Santa Cruz, California
- Old West
- 1936 Western author Larry McMurtry is born
- 1800 President John Adams moves into a tavern in Washington, D.C.
- 1937 Josh Gibson hits ball 580 feet in Yankee Stadium
- Vietnam War
- 1968 Le Duc Tho joins negotiations in Paris
- 1970 Nixon calls Cambodian operation a success
- World War I
- 1916 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signs National Defense Act
- World War II
- 1940 Germans bomb Paris
Clancy's comment: I clearly recall when this happened in Tiananmen Square. Love ya work, Tank Man.