IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th June, 2023 International Relations

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  • The tightening of security and police actions in Hong Kong surrounding the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.


Background of Tiananmen Square

  • Tiananmen Square is a historic city square in Beijing, China, known for significant events in Chinese history.
  • Tiananmen Square is adjacent to the Forbidden City, the historical seat of power for Chinese royals for nearly 500 years.

Protests and Movements in 1989

  • Economic liberalization in the late 1970s led to discontent due to issues such as nepotism and corruption within the new economic system.
  • Protests grew, demanding greater political freedoms, freedom of speech, and democratization of the Chinese polity.
  • The movement gained momentum after the death of Hu Yaobang, seen as a proponent of democratic reforms.
  • Thousands of students occupied Tiananmen Square on April 22, 1989, seeking political freedoms.
  • The protests expanded, with an estimated one million demonstrators joining the movement in Beijing and other cities.

The Crackdown and Casualties

  • The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) declared martial law in Beijing in late May 1989.
  • On June 3-4, troops and tanks were deployed to Tiananmen Square, resulting in a violent crackdown on unarmed protesters.
  • The number of casualties remains disputed, with the Chinese government claiming 241 deaths and 7,000 injuries, while other sources suggest a higher number, such as 10,000 deaths.

China’s Perspective on Tiananmen Square

  • The Chinese government rarely acknowledges the events of June 4, 1989, and justifies the crackdown as necessary to quell political turmoil.
  • Mention of the Tiananmen Square crackdown is heavily censored in mainland China, both in public gatherings and online.
  • Due to censorship and limited education on the topic, many Chinese citizens born after 1989 have little knowledge of the events.

Commemorations in Taiwan

  • In Taiwan, the only Chinese-speaking region where the anniversary can be openly commemorated, activists hold memorials and discussions about the events.
  • Taiwanese Vice President William Lai highlighted the difference between Taiwan's democracy and China's authoritarianism in acknowledging and discussing the Tiananmen Square events.

About Taiwan

Location and Geography

  • Taiwan is an island in the western Pacific Ocean, located off the coast of southeastern China.
  • The capital of Taiwan is Taipei.
  • The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese.
  • The population of Taiwan is approximately 23.9 million people.

History of Taiwan

  • In the 17th century, Taiwan was colonized by the Dutch.
  • In 1662, the Dutch were defeated by the Ming loyalist Koxinga, who established the Kingdom of Tungning on the island.
  • In 1683, the Qing dynasty defeated the Kingdom of Tungning and annexed Taiwan.
  • In 1895, after the Qing dynasty lost the First Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan was ceded to Japan.
  • In 1945, after Japan's defeat in World War II, Taiwan was returned to the Republic of China (ROC).
  • Since 1949, the ROC has been in a state of civil war with the People's Republic of China (PRC).
  • The PRC claims Taiwan as a province, but the ROC government maintains that Taiwan is an independent country.


Q. Tiananmen square protests symbolize the waning hold of the high-handed Chinese regime and assertion of people's liberty. Analyze. (250 words)