April 21 1989 Tiananmen Square Protest Begins In China

Craig Hill

On April 21st 1989, about 100,000 students gathered at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu Yaobang, and voice their discontent with China’s authoritative communist government. Hu, the deposed, reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, had died six days earlier.

The next day, an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang was held in Tiananmen’s Great Hall of the People, and student representatives carried a petition to the steps of the Great Hall, demanding to meet with Premier Li Peng. The Chinese government refused such a meeting, leading to a general boycott of Chinese universities across the country and widespread calls for democratic reforms.

When Hu Yaobang suddenly died to a heart attack on April 15th 1989, students reacted strongly. Hu’s death provided the initial impetus for students to gather in large numbers. In university campuses, many posters appeared eulogising Hu, calling for a reversal of Hu’s legacy. Within days, most posters…

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Categories: History

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