China was gripped by a pro-democracy movement in 1989, triggered by the death of reformist ex-leader Hu Yaobang. Mass street protests, weeks-long sit-ins and hunger strikes at Tiananmen Square by students and residents became the order of the day as demonstrators complained about corruption and demanded greater democracy as well as government transparency. The social unrest culminated in a brutal military crackdown on June 4 ordered by Beijing that effectively ended the movement and continues to be the subject of great controversy to this day.
Three decades have passed since the Tiananmen Square crackdown when troops fired on student-led pro-democracy protesters. The shots were heard around the country and reverberate today despite persistent official censorship of the events.
For 30 years the Communist Party has refused to revisit June 4, doubling down against calls to check its power. But its long-term authoritarian survival strategy raises big risks of its own.
The scale and nature of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square changed everything for Hong Kong, ending talk of developing democracy, and an open election of the city’s leader.
Censorship, silence and time have created a gulf between the young people who witnessed the crackdown 30 years ago and those who came after them.
As 2020 draws near and the world is on the cusp of ultra-fast 5G networks, the US has found itself without a telecommunications hardware champion that can compete with major 5G players such as China’s Huawei Technologies, Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson.
Separated from their families and unable to reach their potential, the brightest and best set out to remember the events of June 4, 1989, and promote democracy on the mainland from overseas, but time has led to disarray and infighting in the ranks.