See More on Facebook

Culture and society, Current affairs

Remembering the key events of the Tiananmen Massacre

Tuesday is the massacre’s 30th anniversary.

Written by

Updated: June 3, 2019

In June 1989, several thousand Chinese college students and disgruntled citizens from all walks of life gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to publicly mourn the death of purged high-level official Hu Yaobang, as well as demand government accountability, freedom of the press and a stop to the rampant corruption plaguing the country. As demonstrations escalated, the Chinese government deployed the military to crack down on the protesters, opening fire on unarmed civilians and killing unknown numbers.

Nearly three decades since Beijing ordered tanks and troops into the Tiananmen Square to crush the student-led pro-democracy uprising, any public commemoration of the event remains banned across the Chinese mainland, where the government has never released an official death toll from the brutal crackdown.

During the military operation on the night of June 3-4, 1989, armored personnel carriers allegedly “opened fire on the crowd (both civilians and soldiers) before running over them,” according to British government cables.

Once the Chinese soldiers arrived in Tiananmen Square, students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes APCs attacked.

Students linked arms but were mown down including soldiers. APCs then ran over bodies time and time again to make ‘pie’ and remains collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains.

The Chinese government justifies the bloodshed by labeling it a suppression of the “counter-revolutionary riots.” Beijing claims some 200 civilians and several dozen police and military personnel were killed during the crackdown. Analyst say the actual number could be in the thousands.


Remembering Tiananmen Square, 1989

Goddess of Democracy

As the sun rises at Tiananmen Square, protesters build a 33 feet tall Goddess of Democracy statue out of foam and paper-mache over a metal armature. In the early morning of June 4, soldiers backed by tanks and armored cars toppled the statue which had stood directly facing the Mao portrait at the Forbidden City.default

Singing Police Woman

In the often tense days leading up to the Chinese government crackdown, local citizens often gave gifts to soldiers and police officials. Sometimes troops would sing patriotic songs with demonstrators. In this picture, a police woman sings out loud in Tiananmen Square a few days before troops retook control of the area and crushed the democratic movement.default


A woman is caught in the middle of a scuffle between pro-democracy protesters and People’s Liberation Army soldiers near the Great Hall of The People on June 3, 1989, the day before one of the bloodiest military crackdowns of the 20th century. Later that night, the 38th army would open fire on unarmed civilians overtaking the occupied Tiananmen Square.default

Captured Weapons

Thousands of protesters surround a bus with a display of captured weapons just days prior to the crackdown. During the government’s enforcement of martial law, soldiers and the public performed a delicate dance of give and take. Sometimes protesters offered gifts to soldiers and sometimes troops withdrew.default

Fight for Democracy

On the late evening of June 3, a group of protesters cornered an armored personnel carrier (APC) at the gates of the Great Hall of The People. It had just crashed through barricades of street dividers which the crowds had put up to stop the advance of military vehicles. At the same time, soldiers were preparing to open fire on the demonstrators a short distance away.default

Burning APC

On the late evening of June 3, protestors set fire to an armored personnel carrier on the Chang’an Avenue near Tiananmen Square. The picture was the last image before photographer Jeff Widener was struck in the face by a stray protestor brick. Though he sustained a serious concussion, The Nikon F3 titanium camera absorbed the blow sparing his life.default

The Crackdown

On June 4, a truck manned by People’s Liberation Army troops patrol down the Chang’an Avenue in front of the Beijing Hotel the day after the bloody crackdown on student-led pro-democracy supporters. A similar truck full of soldiers had shot tourists standing in the lobby of the Beijing Hotel that day.default

‘Tank Man’

A lone man with shopping bags walks to the center of Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue and temporarily stops the advance of Chinese tanks a day after the crackdown. Over two decades later, the fate of the man is still a mystery. The incident has come to symbolize the events at Tiananmen Square and is considered one of the most iconic images ever taken.default

Remembering Tiananmen Square, 1989

Dead Heroes

On June 5, a group of people at the Chang’an Avenue show a picture of dead protesters at a local morgue after being shot by Chinese soldiers of the 38th Army during the recapture of Tiananmen Square. The troops used expanding bullets which created larger wounds. At least 300 civilians were killed, according to Amnesty International.default


The remains of a burned out bus on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue as two women sweep up debris following the military crackdown. The demonstrations led to widespread burning of buses and military vehicles which left several soldiers dead or injured.default

Guarding Mao

Soldiers and a tank stand guard in front of The Forbidden City and across from the occupied Tiananmen Square a few days after the riots.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Asia News Network
About the Author: Asia News Network is a regional media alliance comprising 24 media entities.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society, Current affairs

10 dead in Delhi in violent protests against controversial citizenship law, in the midst of Trump’s visit

Witnesses said Delhi police, who were outnumbered, did little to stop the violence, mostly standing by while groups pelted each other with stones, and vandalised vehicles and property. At least 10 people, including a cop, have been killed in India’s capital city Delhi since Monday (Feb 24), in a worrying outbreak of communal violence between those protesting a controversial citizenship law and groups who oppose them. The violence, marked by arson and stone pelting, continued on Tuesday less than 20km from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump were holding talks. Even journalists reporting on the spot were attacked and forced to delete pictures and footage. More than 100 people have been injured, accordin

By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

Culture and society, Current affairs

Malaysia political turmoil: Search for new government continues as King meets 132 MPs in second day of interviews

The unprecedented move for the King to interview MPs individually instead of meeting party leaders appears to be in line with Dr Mahathir’s plan to form a grand coalition across the political spectrum. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong continues the search for Malaysia’s new government on Wednesday (Feb 26) by interviewing 132 MPs to see whether they back interim premier Mahathir Mohamad to continue leading the country. This will complete interviews of all 222 parliamentarians after those from the opposition were asked on Tuesday who they wanted as prime minister, or if they preferred a snap election. Those heading to the palace on Wednesday are from the now collapsed Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. The Straits Times understands that those still in

By The Straits Times
February 26, 2020

Culture and society, Current affairs

Mahathir made caretaker PM after Malaysia’s King accepts his resignation

After his resignation, the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition saw the departure of dozens of lawmakers that left it short of a majority in Parliament. Just hours after submitting his resignation to Malaysia’s King on Monday (Feb 24), Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was made caretaker Prime Minister. The King accepted Tun Dr Mahathir’s resignation, but appointed him interim Prime Minister, Chief Secretary to the government Mohd Zuki Ali said in a statement. Dr Mahathir will continue to run the country’s administration until a new prime minister and Cabinet are appointed, he added. All ministerial appointments were also cancelled with effect from Monday as a result of the prime minister’s resignation, the chief secretary said in a separate state

By The Straits Times
February 25, 2020

Culture and society, Current affairs

Vietnamese advised to avoid travel to coronavirus-hit areas in South Korea, flights not banned yet

The Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea has recommended Vietnamese citizens to avoid travel to areas affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and places vulnerable to the disease. The warning was made given the complex development of the COVID-19 in the RoK. Vietnamese citizens were also advised to keep a close watch and follow instructions of local agencies to prevent the illness. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Vietnamese Embassy in the RoK to work with local agencies to learn more about the situation, keep in touch with Vietnamese citizens in the country, establish a hotline and be ready to take protection measures when necessary. According to the embassy, as o

By Viet Nam News
February 24, 2020

Culture and society, Current affairs

Singdollar declines to near 3-year low on coronavirus fears

 Fall comes amid Asia-wide forex sell-off after South Korea infection spike, two deaths in Japan. The Singapore dollar fell along with most Asian currencies on concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The local currency fell to its lowest level against the United States dollar since May 2017 at one point yesterday, before recouping some of the losses. It slid about 1 per cent to as low as S$1.4083 to the greenback, before paring losses to trade 0.3 per cent lower. South Korea’s won sank more than 1 per cent to 1,201.95 to the dollar. The baht, the most sensitive in Asia to tourism, dropped 0.7 per cent to 31.406 to the dollar. The sell-off in the region’s foreign exchange (FX) markets followed a spike in confirmed infections in South

By The Straits Times
February 21, 2020

Culture and society, Current affairs

China revokes press cards of 3 WSJ journalists in Beijing

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, the press cards of three Wall Street Journal journalists who are based in Beijing will be revoked from Wednesday. The press cards of three Wall Street Journal journalists who are based in Beijing will be revoked from Wednesday, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “The Chinese people do not welcome media that use racially discriminatory languages and maliciously slander and attack China,” Geng told an online press briefing Wednesday. On Feb 3, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” by Professor Walter Russell Mead of the Bard College, which smeared the efforts of the Chinese government and p

By China Daily
February 20, 2020