Tiananmen Square

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Tiananmen Square (Simplified: 天安门广场; Traditional: 天安門廣場; Meaning: "Gate of Heavenly Peace") is a large plaza in Beijing, found to the south of the Forbidden City. It was built during the Ming Dynasty, at the same time as the Forbidden City.

Tiananmen Square is 109 acres and is one of the largest city squares in the world.

Tiananmen (T'ien-an Men, or Gate of Heavenly Peace) Square marks the southern exit from the Forbidden City. Here is where democracy demonstrators were shot down in 1989

Sites Near the Square

  • Great Hall of the People
  • Forbidden City
  • Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
  • Monument to the People's Heroes
  • National Museum of China

Historical Events

Tiananmen Square was the site of many significant events in China's history.

May Fourth movement

See the article May Fourth Movement The May Fourth Movement was a reform movement which occurred annually in China from 1917 to 1921. When the Treaty of Versailles gave the land that Germany had taken from China to Japan, the Chinese demonstrated against the decision. The Movement was supported by the Nationalist Party and important intellectuals, such as Hu Feng, Hu Shi and Ouyang Xiu. Its goal was to reach national independence and freedom for everyone.

April 5 1976 movement

People all over the country came to Tiananmen Square after the death of Premier Zhou Enlai on Chinese Memorial Day in April of 1976. They expressed their grievances in poetry and wall papers complaining about the government's domination by the Gang of Four, with Mao's widow as the head. On April 5, the Memorial Day, the police relentlessly crushed this movement with lances and clubs. The number of people who died in that crackdown is still unknown. In the following several months, the CCP began a nationwide terror campaign by arresting and purging participants.

1979 Xidan democracy wall event

Undaunted by the anti-Aptil 5 movement campaign, some young men continued to make harsh criticisms of the policy of no political reform made by Deng Xiaoping, who had just returned to power. They put forward a series of supposedly radical ideas by posting wall papers in Xidan, a busy street to the west of Tiananmen Square. Many of these young men, who had over-optimistically estimated the political atmosphere, were put in jail one after another. Wei Jingsheng, one of the most famous dissidents in China, spent 15 years in jail until he was released in 1993.

1987 Anti-bourgeois liberalization movement

Encouraged by successful economic reforms, some intellectuals again demanded political reform by advocating Western freedom and democratic politics, both in the press and in universities. Hu Yaobang, a reform pioneer and the General Secretary of the CCP at that time, was thought by Deng to be responsible for the failure to put down this movement, and was ousted. The famous writer Liu Binyan, Wang Ruowang, and physicist Fang Lizhi, as well as other intellectuals, were kicked out of the CCP in a nationwide purge.

Tiananmen Square massacre

See the article Tiananmen Square massacre After Zhao became the party General Secretary, the economic and political reforms he had championed came under increasing attack. His proposal in May 1988 to accelerate price reform led to widespread popular complaints about rampant inflation and gave opponents of rapid reform the opening to call for greater centralization of economic controls and stricter prohibitions against Western influence. This precipitated a political debate, which grew more heated through the winter of 1988-89.

The death of Hu Yaobang on April 15, 1989, coupled with growing economic hardship caused by high inflation, provided the backdrop for a large-scale protest movement by students, intellectuals, and other parts of a disaffected urban population. University students and other citizens camped out in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to mourn Hu's death and to protest against those who would slow reform. Their protests, which grew despite government efforts to contain them, called for an end to official corruption and for defense of freedoms guaranteed by the Chinese constitution. Protests also spread to many other cities, including Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou.

Martial law was declared on May 20, 1989. Late on June 3 and early on the morning of June 4, military units were brought into Beijing. They used armed force to clear demonstrators from the streets. There are no official estimates of deaths in Beijing, but most observers believe that casualties numbered in the hundreds.

After June 4, while foreign governments expressed horror at the brutal suppression of the demonstrators, the central government eliminated remaining sources of organized opposition, detained large numbers of protesters, and required political reeducation not only for students but also for large numbers of party cadre and government officials.

Self-immolation hoax on Tiananmen Square

See the article Falun_Gong#Persecution

By the end of 2000, a year and a half after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the suppression of Falun Gong, the campaign had failed to garner support among many of the CCP's rank and file. Then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin had toured southern provinces earlier in 2000 hoping to shore up more support for the campaign among local leaders. Meanwhile, public support for the campaign more broadly had waned. On January 23, 2001, five individuals allegedly set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square. The entire scene was caught on camera from multiple angles. Beginning just hours after the event, state-controlled media was flooded with reports that the self-immolators were Falun Gong practitioners. These reports included grisly footage of the victims, portraying Falun Gong teachings as directly responsible for the tragedy.

In the weeks following the event, a wealth of evidence, including a Washington Post article finding that the self-immolators never practiced Falun Gong,[1] uncovered that the entire incident was a hoax. Other evidence surfaced by journalists and international observers indicated that CCP officials had advance knowledge of the self-immolation. Yet, while people inside China had no access to this information, the Chinese state-run media continued a campaign to portray the "self-immolators" as Falun Gong "cultists." People across China changed from respecting and sympathizing with Falun Gong to becoming infuriated with and attacking the practice. Hate crimes targeting Falun Gong practitioners increased and the CCP escalated its persecution with increased arrests, torture, killing, and forced organ harvesting.

With 70-100 million practicing Falun Gong in China, by 1999 the traditional discipline was largely a household name and respected. The staged "self-immolation," however, now remains the single most influential factor in garnering disgust or hatred toward Falun Gong among the Chinese people. The resulting apathy or hostility toward Falun Gong in China facilitated the regime's attempt to eradicate the practice.[2]