China, democratization, Tiananmen, 1989, political development
"We are going to take back the powers of democracy and freedom from the hands of that gang of old men who have grabbed those powers away from us". Those are the words of Wand Dan, student leader, during a speech on Tiananmen Square at the end of April 1989.
Since 1984 and the acceleration of the political reforms, the Chinese regime seemed open to deep transformations. But the events of 1989 cruelly broke the hopes of a vast part of the population. Seizing the excuse of Hu Yaobang's passing (15th of April), students and reformist intellectuals initiated many pro democracy demonstrations in Beijing at Tiananmen Square, bringing together more than 1 million people.
[...] Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms (“To get rich is glorious” D. Xiaoping) had many positive consequences for the country. But the people also went through difficult times with for example the development of an increasing gap between the rich and the poor or very high inflations levels. The “decollectivization” generated disarray among traditions. Besides, in the late 1980s many segments of the society were frustrated with the corruption inside the PCC and were feeling that the system only profited to the powerful who were getting more powerful. [...]
[...] As Mr Wang pointed out, the emergence of a strong civil society is quite encouraging. The growing rule of law, the constant augmentation of international interaction on the part of China (for instance with global trade or political relationships), the presence of a debate within the CCP on democracy, fundamental political and structural changes such as the death of the so called “long march generation”, the old guard from the 1930, and the depoliticization of the Army (the PLA does not have a seat on the standing committee of the Politburo nowadays) are also very good signs. [...]
[...] During the spring of 1986, reformer leaders began a political modernisation of the system, with the support of Deng Xiaoping. Freethinking, election of representatives, and separation of the state and the Party were the main themes of this campaign. But, the more general question of occidental models, of full freedom and even of the purpose of Capitalism was often asked in the newspapers. In September 1986, the reforms were put on hold until the XIIIth Congress (the following year). From the end of October the same year, student demonstrations began, first in Shandong and then in the big cities. [...]
[...] They were hoping for a Chinese version of the glasnost implemented by Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR. The death of former leader Hu Yaobang (picture) very probably sparked the demonstrations of Tiananmen Square in 1989: he was one of the reformist leaders and had been moved away from the power in 1987, after the student demonstrations of 1986. He was seen as one of the incorruptible leaders and was quite respected amongst the populations. Therefore his death in April 1989 generated a vast mourning and subsequent protests against the government. [...]
[...] The student movement was also severely repressed in the countryside and the government orchestrated a strict purge throughout China. During the twelve months following the Tiananmen protests, the Communist Party made sure that things went back to normal. Zhao Ziyang (at this time first secretary of the CCP) was pulled away from power for good; he stayed under house arrest until he died. Deng Xiaoping delivered a speech on the 9th of June stating the official position on the events. [...]
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