See More on Facebook

Culture and society

Tiananmen 30 years on: How far has China come?

Straits Times collection on its Tiananmen coverage.


Written by

Updated: June 4, 2019

Thirty years ago, in the early hours of June 4, the world watched in shock and horror as tanks rolled into Beijing’s main Tiananmen Square and West Changan Avenue and fired on student protesters calling for democracy and freedom.

The Straits Times’ China Bureau looks at how the country has moved on since that bloody, fateful day.

CHINA BREAKS SILENCE AND DEFENDS TIANANMEN ACTION

The Chinese Communist Party has broken its silence on what has been the most taboo topic in China since 1989.

In a rare move, the state-run nationalistic Global Times yesterday published an editorial defending the government’s decision to send troops and tanks into Tiananmen Square on the morning of June 4 30 years ago to quash a student-led pro-democracy movement.

Headlined “June 4 immunised China against turmoil”, the editorial, published only in its English-language edition, downplayed the incident and accused dissidents and Western politicians and media of stirring up public opinion and attacking China.

READ MORE HERE

A CHINA THAT’S AVERSE TO POLITICAL REFORMS – FOR NOW

Flirting with political reforms can be risky business.

Mr Zhao Ziyang was purged as Chinese Communist Party chief for opposing the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown and put under house arrest for about 16 years until his death – the second reform-minded leader to be toppled after the 1949 communist revolution.

Since the 1989 clampdown, political reforms that would turn China into a liberal democracy have all but hit a brick wall. President Xi Jinping and his predecessors Jiang Zemin, who replaced Zhao, and Hu Jintao have frowned on Western-style democracy lest one man one vote should end communist rule.

READ MORE HERE

DESPITE HARASSMENT, VICTIMS’ FAMILIES FIGHT TO FIND THE TRUTH

Madam Zhang Xianling knows that every year, at this time, she will get a few “visitors” who will stand guard at her ninth-floor lift landing or at the stairway, or park themselves downstairs and insist on taking her wherever she wants to go.

After 30 years of having such uninvited company, she now just shrugs off this state-sponsored surveillance. At least they are open about keeping watch now, not like the early days of lurking in the shadows and hiding behind walls.

This year was a little different. The “visitors” – police officers – had clocked in at her home in the north of Beijing, near the Olympic Park, more times than usual.

READ MORE HERE

INCIDENT STILL TABOO; YOUNG CHINESE FOCUS ON PATH AHEAD

Tsinghua University student Megan Li (not her real name) was asked what her parents’ political views were regarding the 1989 Tiananmen protests when she was applying to be a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member about five years ago.

Until then, she knew very little about the events leading up to the military crackdown on June 4.

“That’s when I realised what a serious political issue it was for the party,” said Ms Li, 26, who was eventually accepted as a CCP member.

READ MORE HERE

CHINA BOUNCES BACK, 30 YEARS AFTER TIANANMEN

After the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, the Soviet Union fell apart on Dec 26, 1991.

Some communist legislators bear-hugged each other in tears at a closed-door meeting, fearing that China would be next, a non-communist retired parliamentarian recalled witnessing.

Fast forward 30 years. Doom and gloom have turned into hope and a swelling of national pride.

READ MORE HERE

CHINESE EXILES HELP KEEP MEMORY OF JUNE 4 ALIVE

For Mr Han Dongfang, nothing that happens in China today can be worse than what he witnessed 30 years ago in and outside Tiananmen Square – flares lighting up the dark sky, soldiers shooting people with machine guns, “crazy tanks” rumbling into the square, people with their bodies covered in blood.

On June 4, 1989, the Chinese government turned its guns on its own unarmed youth who had been camping in the square since April to demand democratic reforms.

Much of the carnage took place outside the square along West Changan Avenue. The dead or injured included student protesters who were shot at as they were leaving the square and civilians who had come out to support the demonstrators.

READ MORE HERE

A BID TO REMEMBER TANK MAN – TO FIGHT ‘COLLECTIVE AMNESIA’

A lone man, bags in both hands, standing his ground as a column of tanks bears down on him on June 5, 1989.

The image, which no doubt would have gone viral in the social media age, appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world after it was smuggled out of China.

Tank Man, as the unidentified man came to be known, is considered one of the most iconic photos of all time – except in China, where information about the Tiananmen crackdown remains suppressed.

READ MORE HERE 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

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

Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak. One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved. Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety. On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement se


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Culture and society

India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Culture and society

Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Culture and society

Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M


By Daily Star
March 10, 2020

Culture and society

MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai


By The Star
March 9, 2020

Culture and society

OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the


By ANN Members
March 6, 2020