Condenced Notes - China in Chaos and Reform 1949-89

B many appeals came from within and abroad to offer

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b. Many appeals came from within and abroad to offer Wei Jingsheng (in prison for 10 years) amnesty along with others who were in prison solely for their political views. These appeals were not answered beyond denying China held any political prisoners. c. Demonstrators began appearing in Tiananmen Square demanding democracy and reform. Students knelt on the steps of the Great Hall of the People and begged Premier Li Peng to come speak to them. He refused. d. Sit-ins were held in front of the senior party leaders’ residences on the edge of the Forbidden City. Mikhail Gorbachev arrived for a summit with Deng Xiaoping to mark the end of the rift between the Soviet Union and China begun in 1956 with Khrushchev’s “secret speech” attacking Stalin’s memory. (Spence 741) e. Gorbachev was warmly greeted because he had come to power and begun reforms to restructure the communist economy and encourage glasnost or openness in relaxing censorship. More than 3,000 hunger strikers were among the one million demonstrators. Some were in medically perilous states. f. Television crews beamed the scene to all of China and the outside world. On May 20, 1989 martial law was declared and the Chinese army was brought to Beijing to clear the square and return order to the city. g. Workers joined the students. They threw up barricades, surrounded army convoys and beseeched the soldiers not to turn their guns on their fellow Chinese. The leadership was divided. Deng Xiaoping was reminded of the Cultural Revolution and wanted a “hard” response. h. Art students fashioned a thirty foot tall statue of white plaster and Styrofoam as their version of Liberty, a young woman head held high with a torch of freedom clasped in her hands. i. Late on the night of June 3 the army struck with heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers they crashed through the barricades and ran over demonstrators who had fallen or stood to halt their progress. Bursts of automatic weapon fire swept the crowds and anyone who moved too close to the military’s positions. j. The statue was crushed by tanks, wounded demonstrators were denied treatment in hospitals, soldiers were beaten to death by enraged crowds. Hundreds were killed and thousands wounded, waves of arrests began. k. Deng Xiaoping publicly thanked the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) for clearing the square. l. Workers who had joined the demonstrations were arrested, interrogated and, frequently, executed publicly. Foreign governments were stunned but uncertain how to act. (Spence 744) m. Deng declared any effort to discredit the communist party must always be crushed along with any move to “introduce the American system of the separation of the three powers.” Deng concluded by calling for more railways, more roads, more ships, more steel and more electric power. n. China was facing a great struggle between “bourgeois liberalization and spiritual pollution” on the one hand and “socialism” on the other.
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  • Fall '12
  • Baumann
  • Mao Zedong, People's Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping, Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward

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