In June of 1989 a tragic historical event in china shocked the world. A well-organized group of college age students demonstrated against the Chinese Communist government. They wanted a form of democratic government. This essay gives a summary of the events that took place before, during, and after this tragic historical event.
The student's demonstration of June 4, 1989, was not the first protest in the 1980s. The student's started demonstrating their dissatisfaction with Chinese government, late 1985 in Beijing and again in Shanghai on December 23, 1986. The students waved banners with slogans such as "Law, not Authoritarianism" and "Long Live Democracy." During a November 1985 demonstration, 23 student protestors were arrested and suspected to be "ringleaders". The Chinese government claimed to know because they had infiltrated both the student's preparation planning and the demonstration itself. In December 1985 the student protestors explicitly called for political reforms. This frustrated the Chinese authorities causing them to react with threats of cracking down on the student protesters. .
The persistence of student protesters through their demonstrations started to influence some senior Chinese leaders. After a January 1987 demonstration where thousands of students protested in Tiananmen Square, a reformer and Communist Party General Secretary, Hug Yaobang was reported to resign as a result of this protest.
It was Hug Yaobang's death two years later in April 1989 that proved to be the catalyst for the massive demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. What started out to be a large gathering to grieve his loss turned into a political democracy rally. By May 20, 1989, the Chinese leadership imposed martial law in the city limits of Beijing and was moving decisively to use force to clear the square.
The U.S. officials hoped to see the stand off between the Chinese government and students end in a peaceful manner.