The Lasting Tragedy of Tiananmen Square
China’s progress toward an open society ended when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) slaughtered at least hundreds, if not thousands, of peaceful demonstrators in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 3-4, 1989. The crackdown left a lasting stain on the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), despite the regime’s unrelenting efforts to whitewash history and suppress collective memory.
Three decades later, the consequences of the CPC’s decision to crush the protest have become even harder to escape. Looking back, it is clear that the tragedy altered the course of Chinese history decisively, foreclosing the possibility of a gradual and peaceful transition to a more liberal and democratic political order.