30 years ago, in the spring of 1989, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Beijing and assembled at Tiananmen Square, demanding democracy, freedom of speech and an end to the widespread corruption in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Led by students, these pro-democracy demonstrations were by far the most extensive outbreak of collective dissent since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. Even though the political system in China remained unaltered after the modern Chinese founding father’s death, the ensuing decade was characterized by rapid economic liberalization and social change. However, as the benefits of these developments were mainly captured by the political elite, Chinese students, workers and even government employees started protesting, which eventually culminated into the Tiananmen Movement in April 1989. After a seven-week standoff, China’s political leadership called in the security forces to crush the dissent. On the 3rd and 4th of June 1989, units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLC) entered Tiananmen Square with assault rifles and tanks and began forcibly dissolving the protests. As the security forces opened fire indiscriminately at the demonstrators, the bloody crackdown has become known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundreds to multiple thousands.
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