China: Looking back on the 1989 democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre

To mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reproduces an excerpt from the analysis by an eyewitness to the 1989 democratic upsurge that preceded the brutal attack. The writer was an Australian socialist who was studying in China at the time. It first appeared in Green Left Weekly on June 26, 1996.

* * *

By Liang Guosheng

On June 4, 1989, troops, armoured personnel carriers and tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forced their way through human and constructed barricades into central Beijing, taking control of Tiananmen Square. In the process, according to an estimate by Amnesty International soon afterwards, approximately 1000 unarmed protesters were gunned down or otherwise killed.

Numerous eyewitness accounts confirmed the extent of the massacre. The dead were students and other Beijing workers and residents who had gathered the previous evening to protest against the PLA's forced entry into central Beijing and the square, which on May 20, 1989, China's Premier Li Peng had declared a martial law district.

Since the massacre more eyewitness interviews, analytical articles and quite a range of books have been published concerned with what has come to be termed the 1989 Democracy Movement and Beijing massacre. More recent works have also covered the ensuing government crackdown and the fate of those protesters captured by the government, executed or imprisoned.

In the main, parties historically influenced by Stalinism quickly lined up either to defend the "crackdown" against the "counter-revolutionaries" in the square (declaring: "the protesters were CIA dupes"). Others grappled with the problem of how, in the light of quickly mounting evidence, to present a wait-and-see attitude ("how can we trust the Western media's reporting?").

Alternatively, papers produced by far-left organisations in the West correctly identified the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as bearing direct responsibility for the massacre. However, they by and large failed to distinguish between the lower to middle echelons of the party and the factionalised leadership at its apex. In Beijing, at least, vast numbers of party members overtly and covertly supported or helped lead the movement.

Just one example: at several protest marches in late May 1989, even after Premier Li Peng's declaration of martial law, journalists from a large number of newspapers marched along the Boulevard of Heavenly Peace to the square. Prominent was a contingent from the party's main official organ, the People's Daily -- with many of the staff being CCP cadre. On the whole, party members were easily identified -- many wore their party badges at the demonstrations.

During those spring months in Beijing, the movement drew support and leadership from groups and activists who, at least prior to the massacre, were far more concerned with what they saw as an opportunity to "reform" the CCP than with its overthrow.

The students, and those whom their actions inspired, including impressive contingents of workers, were united by a range of key demands. Generally these called for the official political rehabilitation of then recently deceased CCP former Secretary-General Hu Yaobang; measures to rid the CCP of corruption, especially the flagrant abuses at its higher levels; the introduction of government transparency and official accountability; measures to increase the democratic rights of students and citizens; the freeing up of academic life and improved study conditions for students together with increases in pay for academics. A call for increased freedom of the press was high on the list following the banning of several prominent newly founded popular newspapers and magazines.

In particular, the students demanded the official reversal of a People's Daily editorial in April which had denounced the student movement as "a small handful of people" misled by counter-revolutionary elements. The day after the editorial was published, students from across Beijing spilled out of their campuses in unprecedented numbers to hold a well-organised peaceful protest march. That day many observers had spotted a sign in the middle of the sea of protesters on which was written, "A Small Handful".

A call for anti-inflation measures was also high on the list. Inflation had raged in the urban centres during the late 1980s, but the party/state leadership had shown little capacity to deal with it. By late May 1989 the post-Cultural Revolution "honeymoon" of Deng Xiaoping was well and truly over. Deng's toppling of two all-but-anointed party successors in a row, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, ensured his own increasing vilification by many as the country's "new emperor".

The Democracy Movement was, up until June 4, more a move for "democratisation". The push for "democratisation" leaned significantly, for political and ideological sustenance, on what was viewed, especially by Chinese students, as a contemporary trend to democratise the state and party in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev.

The mistake, intentional or otherwise, of many foreign journalists who had flown in for the Gorbachev visit during April and had stayed on to cover the events in the square, was to assume that "democratisation" implied a general desire of the students to embrace Western bourgeois-democratic models within the context of a capitalist system. In reality, few students at the time had more than a very hazy theoretical notion of "bourgeois democracy". Many felt that, given China's poverty and other problems, transplanted "bourgeois-democratic models" were not appropriate.

The construction of the Goddess of Democracy statue in the square by students from a Beijing Arts College days before June 4 was sufficient to drive most remaining journalistic sobriety out the window. The resemblance to the US Statue of Liberty was striking. Any possibility of multiple interpretations of this act was sidelined as the journalists and editors, collective tears in eyes, packaged those students' action as equivalent to having erected a giant apple pie or even a McDonald's burger with the lot.

With hindsight, the movement and subsequent massacre and crackdown in Beijing possessed far more in common with earlier democracy movements in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), and their outcomes under Stalinism, than with a general urge to adopt a US bourgeois "democratic" system. Few at that time were willing to swap the dictatorship of the Stalinist CCP for an outright "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie".

However, it would be utopian to suggest that after June 4, 1989, many people in Beijing would have felt that "socialism" in China could still be reformed towards an anti-Stalinist model.

Immediately after Premier Li Peng's declaration of martial law on May 20, there was a definite "get stuffed" attitude by the people towards the party leadership. The population of the capital, with a voluntary unity unprecedented in recent times, declared by their words and actions that they had had quite enough of decades of dictatorial high-handedness and factional stupidities. This was expressed in the spontaneous massive mobilisation, lasting several weeks, of human barricades to stop the PLA entering central Beijing.

A key difference from Hungary '56 and Czechoslovakia '68 was that in 1989 the Chinese democracy movement was not crushed by Soviet tanks, but by PLA ones.

Many Western leaders were politically "king hit" by the scenes of tanks rolling through the square.

Along with many Chinese, they had admired "Deng the political survivor", and enthusiastically followed his leadership as the Chinese people struggled to free themselves from the horrors and stupidities of the CCP-imposed Cultural Revolution.

Meanwhile, the arrival of each anniversary of the massacre continues to worry the CCP leadership. In the lead-up, dissidents continue to be arrested as a matter of course. The government's crackdowns in Tibet and Xinjiang serve as a reminder that placards for Tibetan independence were amongst those held high in the pro-democratisation rallies of 1989.

As for Tiananmen Square, since 1989 the government has been keen to maintain it as a centre for rallies only in support of the party leadership. Not long after 1989, the Beijing authorities erected a "Notice for Visiting the Monument to the People's Heroes" on a lower tier at this shrine at the centre of the square.

Learning the lesson that even individual expressions of grief for "revolutionary martyrs" can be the catalyst for mass anti-government protests, the authorities have stipulated: "Any commemorative activities at the Monument must be authorised by the Beijing Municipal Government or the Tiananmen Square Administrative Committee", and "Presenting wreaths, baskets of flowers, garlands and small flowers to the Monument must be approved by the Tiananmen Square Administrative Committee. Registrations of formalities should be made 5 days ahead." It would be hard to invent a more "perfect" bureaucratic solution to public spontaneity.

The Chinese economy is booming, but only for some. Hardly rating a mention has been the trend to rapidly increasing social disparity, dislocation of the rural and urban poor, the massive and continuous rise in official corruption, the arrests of struggling workers and repression of "illegal" worker organisations, the jailing of political dissidents, the special repressive measures within "ethnic minority areas" such as Tibet and Xinjiang -- policies that are also encouraged by the investment interests of both Western imperialism and south-east Asian capitalism.

It's a sign the government still fears the next of the mass movements, which, as far as China's bureaucratic leaders are concerned, have a habit of resurfacing with disturbing regularity.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:24


From Socialist Worker (USA):

Dennis Kosuth tells the story of the revolt that shook China's rulers.

THE CHINESE national anthem, like for most countries, is militaristic, jingoistic and--unless one is a fan of marching--difficult to listen to.

Unlike most others, however, it begins with the line "Arise, all who refuse to be slaves" and calls on the people to "stand up." The lyrics were a product of the nationalist revolution of 1949, in which, following the defeat of the Japanese colonialists four years earlier, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was victorious in a civil war over the Nationalist Party.

In October 1949, Mao Zedong, leader of the CCP, addressed tens of thousands in Tiananmen Square, announcing the creation of a "People's Republic" free from imperialist occupation. Meaning "Gate of Heavenly Peace," Tiananmen is the entrance to the Forbidden City, the part of Beijing from which many emperors--figuratively and physically sealed off from the population--ruled China.

Four decades later, over the course of several weeks, hundreds of thousands would again "stand up" and occupy Tiananmen, supported by millions of people around the city and the country.

This was the Tiananmen Square rebellion, and its participants were "standing up" not to colonialism and occupation, but to economic crisis, corruption and autocracy--against a government that claimed to stand for socialism, but in reality ruled with an iron fist over an exploitative and oppressive system.

This regime eventually struck back against the Tiananmen uprising, crushing a revolt that threatened to shake its rule.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

WHAT HAPPENED over the course of those spring weeks in 1989? How did the conflict come to the point where so much blood was shed?

From the beginning, the system established by Mao's CCP was a state capitalist command economy, not socialism. The party and state bureaucracy made all the important decisions about society, with the aim of accomplishing national economic development along the lines of the Russian model established under Joseph Stalin's totalitarian rule.

By the 1970s, the ruling faction of the Chinese government, led by Deng Xiaoping, steered the country toward "socialism with Chinese characteristics." This meant unleashing free-market forces in the countryside, where 80 percent of the Chinese population lived, and developing industry in multiple coastal cities through foreign investment, and the use of Western technology and management techniques.

In order to further this economic strategy, the government had to educate a homegrown army of technicians, engineers and managers by expanding access to education. As part of this move, it was important to relax the political control of the CCP to some extent. Greater latitude to think and debate freely, especially within educational institutions, was a necessary precondition to economic reform.

Economic reforms did lead to 10 percent growth for almost every year during the 1980s, but there were still sharp ups and downs as the economy lurched forward. By 1988, the country was deep in an economic crisis, with inflation spiraling out of control.

While China's first efforts were modeled on Stalin's multiple five-year-plans, and Deng later incorporated free-market forces into his restructuring policies, both strategies had the common denominator of setting priorities based on the need to compete in an international capitalist economy.

This economic competition with the outside world was the whip that drove China to advance its economy at any cost necessary. Like Stalin's Russia, the rhetoric of socialism was merely a tool to motivate workers to produce more.

By the end of the 1980s, increased political freedom resulted in people feeling they could finally air their discontent. The ruling class, already divided as a result of internal battles over how to carry out its program, was unable to alleviate the economic crisis. On the contrary, while workers suffered from price inflation and mass layoffs, officials and businessmen were seen to be living better than ever. This was the tinder for the revolt.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

HU YAOBANG, the former general secretary of the CCP, died on April 15, 1989. Two years prior, he had been driven from his position in the party in disgrace because he was seen as challenging corruption.

In an obvious reference to then-84-year-old Deng, posters appeared around Beijing declaring: "The wrong man has died...Those who should die still live...Those who should live have died."

The first protest march on April 17 to Tiananmen Square only numbered in the hundreds, but the chants were indicative of the mood: "Long live Hu Yaobang. Long live democracy. Long live freedom. Down with corruption. Down with bureaucracy." As protests continued, Hu Yaobang became less a focus, and dissatisfaction with the status quo sharpened.

At its heart, the Tiananmen struggle was for bourgeois democratic rights--like those in a country like the U.S., where people have the freedom to vote and protest, even though a small minority holds political power in the interest of the rich. But compared to the CCP dictatorship, such democratic rights would have been a step forward.

The Tiananmen movement was being led by students and intellectuals, and had sympathizers among a small minority of the ruling class. Its demands found resonance within society at large, especially among the quickly growing urban working class.

As with any struggle, there were a variety of political ideas within the pro-democracy movement. A significant number of students identified with Western culture and economic systems. With Deng declaring, "to get rich is glorious," it isn't surprising that some people would take those words seriously, and want some idealized version of capitalist society.

Because of the temporary classless position of students--with the potential to become workers, bureaucrats or businessmen--many saw sense in appealing to a section of China's rulers to give them some political power, in exchange for their support.

Some sections of the students wanted to keep their struggle pure, separate from the rest of society. Others were aware that the movement had struck a chord with a significant section of society, giving it a power it never would have had otherwise.

Regardless of whether students were conscious of it, however, the mass character of the struggle--and the potential it represented--stirred fear among China's rulers, who prepared a bloody response.

Hu's official state funeral was to take place on April 22, across the street from Tiananmen Square. The night before, tens of thousands of students from universities and colleges across the city began pouring into the streets. The march grew to 100,000 and stretched more than two miles.

Nothing like it has been seen in China since the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Every Beijing institution was represented, including students from other cities.

Unperturbed by the presence of police and soldiers, the students refused to clear the square. As the octogenarians who ran the country were walked, wheeled and carried into Hu's service, chants of "Long live democracy, down with autocracy" could be heard echoing across the square.

From the party's perspective, this insolence could not go unanswered. The People's Daily editorial carried Deng's line characterizing the demonstrations as "planned conspiracy and turmoil, its essence is once and for all to negate the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system."

Instead of being intimidated, however, students were enraged. Meeting on the night of April 26, the Provisional Beijing Students' Union called for a mass march the next day. Thousands gathered on campuses across Beijing, broke through police lines and came together in a procession of 150,000. The government's ultimatum had been met with open defiance.

While hardliners in the CCP wanted to squash the movement through fear, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang sought a different approach, trying to placate the students. In his speech, he implicitly undercut Deng's editorial assertion and stated that there was "no great turmoil."

The old guard, of course, saw such conciliation as weakness. While the divisions had existed in China's ruling class previously, they were now clear for all to see.

The debate over how to deal with the protesters fell along similar lines to the argument about how to move forward with China's economic development. This was reflected, too, among the students, who held a variety of opinions as to the direction and speed that reforms should take.

The Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev--who was presiding over his own policies, called perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness), to reform state capitalism in the USSR--was due to arrive in Beijing on May 15. This would be the first visit from a Russian head of state since the split between the USSR and China in the early 1960s. The world lens would be focused on Beijing.

Meanwhile, students had embarked on a hunger strike to revitalize the movement, which had been waning in strength after Zhao's intervention.

The hunger strike was a success at raising the level of sympathy for the students' cause. On its fourth day, when 600 people were taken to the hospital, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the square to show their solidarity. British journalist Michael Fathers described the scene:

The following day, the students staged their biggest demonstration yet. At their encouragement, more than a million people took to the streets...Sympathy demonstrations broke out in at least 24 cities across the country...

Schoolchildren thrust tiny fists into the air, led by their teachers in chants of "long live democracy, down with corruption." Workers arrived from Beijing Brewery, the Capital Iron and Steel Works and the Beijing Jeep Corporation. "Get up and stand up for your rights," chanted a group of teenagers, carrying a black-and-white banner bearing the image of Bob Marley...

Of all the slogans, placards and flags on view in and around Tiananmen Square, the most worrying for the leadership was surely the long red banner carried by short-haired men in uniforms. "The People's Liberation Army," it announced in gold letters.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THIS WAS the apex of the struggle, with demonstrations held in cities across the country. It was clear to the ruling bureaucracy that it had to act soon if the status quo was going to be maintained.

The army began its invasion of Beijing early on May 20, but the citizens of Beijing rose up to protect the students. As Fathers wrote:

The people's army had been outmaneuvered by the people. Without orders to open fire, troops sat disconsolately on the back of canvas-covered trucks, cradling their AK-47 rifles. Around them swarmed not only students in headbands, but workers, old women, middle-aged cadres, all of them chanting "Go home" and "The people's army should love the people."

This outpouring of support materialized because ordinary people supported the students against the government. While the workers didn't necessarily share all the political positions of the students, they were fed up with the system for their own reasons, and when the government ordered the invasion, they knew whose side they were on.

The Beijing Autonomous Union had been founded only weeks before by workers who wanted to do something around inflation and corruption, and saw their official state-run union as passive at best, and obstructionist at worst. As one of their posters summarized:

We have calculated carefully, based on Marx's Capital, the rate of exploitation of workers. We discovered that the "servants of the people" swallow all the surplus value produced by the people's blood and sweat...There are only two classes: the rulers and the ruled...The political campaigns of the past 40 years amount to a political method for suppressing the people...History's final accounting has yet to be completed.

Many students felt they had a friend in Zhao Ziyang, and that Deng's overall project of modernizing China was a step in the right direction. Most workers, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic about Deng's reforms, because they were the gears upon which China's economic development turned. The workers who took part in the struggle wanted independent organizations to defend their class interests.

But on the whole, the working class was unorganized. Its leadership in the struggle wasn't an option, so that role fell to students and intellectuals.

On May 30, the "Goddess of Democracy," a 30-foot plaster version of the Statue of Liberty, was erected in Tiananmen. But the number of students in the square was diminishing rapidly, and the arrival of the statue did little to bring in more support.

The Army moved in with a final assault on June 4, using tanks and live ammunition. The resistance, while heroic in its attempts to stop the advancing army, was ultimately futile.

It's difficult to say how many died, since the victor wanted to downplay the bloodshed in its version of history. Needless to say, the brunt of the violence was borne by the common citizens of the city, who had only buses, barricades and their bodies with which to confront the armed soldiers.

Much ink condemning the Chinese government was spilled in the Western media after the fact, and the image of one lone individual stopping the advance of a line of tanks was played and replayed.

But once the blood and broken bodies had been swept from the streets, the Western powers from which the condemnations came were all too eager to get back to business as usual with China.

Sadly, some organizations on the left today--like the Party for Socialism and Liberation, for example--continue to this day to make excuses for the CCP's slaughter at Tiananmen, on the bizarre reasoning that the Chinese government remained a defender of the working class.

This kind of twisted thinking has to be rejected outright if politics for true working class liberation, in China or anywhere else, are going to be put forward. Socialism is the polar opposite of the barbaric regime that crushed the Tiananmen Square revolt.

Anyone who believes in justice will look forward to the day when the Chinese working class, one of the largest in the world, will lead the struggle not only for its own emancipation, but the freedom of every oppressed group in China. When they do, they will be following in the tradition of the students and workers who gathered in Tiananmen in the spring of 1989.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 17:52


Both the ISO and the PSL are mistaken in my view. The ISO does not recognise
that China had a social revolution. The PSL does not understand the process of
bureaucratic degeneration and capitalist restoration.

For a third view, see:

Chris Slee

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 13:23


Here is Kristian Whittaker's article written one year after the massacre. Excuse the funny formatting and odd characters. It appeared in Direct Action, June 1990. Direct Action was the forerunner of Green Left Weekly.

The Beijing massacre one year later

One year ago, troops crushed the democracy movement in Beijing.
Since then, the regime has claimed -- and some Western journalists have
backed it at least in part -- that accounts at the time were greatly
exaggerated and that little or no bloodshed was involved. KRISTIAN WHITTAKER,
who was in Beijing covering the events for Direct Action, presents the

* * *

Wending Yadao Yiqie, ``Stability must crush all else'', has been one
of the most common slogans promoted by the official Chinese press since late
last year. Since 1979, when Deng Xiaoping ordered the crushing of the Democracy
Wall movement, slogans of unity and stability have been a constant feature of
the Deng regime.

With the official press openly reverting to Maoist sloganeering, with hack
writers from the Cultural Revolution resurrected and unleashed on the Beijing
population, with the People's Liberation Army subjected to another campaign to
<169>Learn from Lei Feng<170> (Mao's model soldier of the Cultural Revolution),
the Li Peng government is clearly nervous that the population of Beijing was
less than appreciative of the government's June 4 response to the students'
peaceful occupation of Tienanmen Square.

In the early hours of June 4, after listening in the square to students and
teachers denounce Li Peng's imposition of martial law and call for a continued
occupation of the square, I began to make my way eastwards along Jianguomen
Road. At that time, I believe, no-one in the square had any idea that the army
had already begun to shoot unarmed protesters at Muxidi, 10 kilometres

As I wended my way through the huge crowds of protesters, a speeding armored
personnel carrier, breaking through to the eastern side of the square, was the
first indication I had of the <S>PLA<D>'s intention to smash through the
protesting crowds. At Jianguomen Bridge, a crushed body < 197> that of a person
who'd been sitting atop an army truck fraternising with soldiers <197> bore
witness to the carrier driver's willingness to try to crash through a barricade
at the cost of crushing people.

The machine-gunning by tank personnel of fleeing, unarmed protesters on
Jianguomen Bridge, which occurred when a tank column broke through from the east
on its way to the square, settled any doubts as to the government's intentions.
By about 5.30 a.m., the sound of machine-gunning from the square itself echoed
around central Beijing. Later that afternoon ( June 4) I listened to the tales
of fleeing students. Though often confused on details of exact times and places,
the students spoke consistently of the army killing unarmed people.

The Beijing media's own open and courageous reporting of the mass movement ended
abruptly, but not before the June 4 evening edition of the <I> People's Daily<D>
carried these words: <169>In the early hours of June 4, the army forced its way
into Tienanmen Square. Continuous reports have been received from major Beijing
hospitals of deaths and casualties.<170>

@fsubh = Cover-up

From this point on, the Chinese government began desperately to push its own
version of the eight weeks of protests up to June 4 and the events through to
June 9. Its version of reality soon came unstuck. There had been no shooting by
the army in the square at all, was the initial line. However, this denial was
almost immediately contradicted by the army officer in charge.

Next the official body count varied amazingly.

Over the following months, the government, army and Public Security Bureau
churned out books documenting their version of events, complete with selective

The basic line has been that there was no massacre, merely the army's shooting
of rioters in self-defence <197> even if a few innocent people happened to get
in the way. The rioters, and indeed the student movement as a whole, had been
influenced by a small handful of counter- revolutionaries who wanted to
overthrow the party and socialism, to establish a bourgeois, Western-style

On the heels of this campaign, some Australian journalists have sown some seeds
of confusion themselves. Linda Jaivin, a specialist writer on China, has
recently rebutted the main doubts about the massacre put forward by Philip
Knightley and echoed by Padraic McGuinness.

@fsubh = Outside the `square'

Jaivin points out that these journalists' preoccupation with killings in the
square itself falls into line with the Chinese government's push to direct
attention away from the larger-scale killings on the approaching roads.

The government, she writes, has redefined the square itself to fit the concept
of many foreign journalists: <169>Since the mid-1950s the official definition of
Tienanmen Square has always included not only the paved plaza where the monument
to the people's heroes stands but also the Avenue of Heavenly Peace from Xidan
in the west to Dongdan in the east, including Liubukou (a scene, by all
accounts, of terrible bloodshed) as well as the street in front of Tienanmen
Gate and running a block past the Peking Hotel to the east.<170>

As for the square itself, <169>I have interviewed witnesses who concur that
shortly after the evacuation of students began, soldiers attacked students from
behind with knives, bayonets and gunfire and <193> chased them with armoured
personnel carriers and tanks <193> There have been other independent reports
which claim that after the students left, another group of people, possibly
workers in an unarmed `dare to die' squad, dashed back into the square and onto
the monument, where they were beaten and ultimately annihilated by the advancing
troops <193> It is useful to ponder why the official government video of the
`peaceful evacuation' of students from the centre of the square, <193> intended
to be the final persuasive piece of evidence that no one was killed in the
square, cuts off suddenly before the evacuation was completed.<170> (<169> And
now the facts on Tienanmen Square<170>, <I>Australian Society,<D> May 1990).

For China scholar Geremie Barme, working in the Tienanmen Documentation project
at the Australian National University, the fact of the massacre as such is not
in question. <169>In my opinion, the first account of the massacre published in
the Hong Kong newspaper <I>Wen Hui Bao<D> is the most reliable. It describes
killing in the square and the last minute massacre, after the evacuation of most
of the students, of protesters around the monument to the people's heroes. As
for the arguments over the body count, I tend to agree with the Amnesty
International Report. This report was compiled after eyewitness interviews
covering over 650 people, and points to at least 1000 deaths. The Documentation
Project holds accounts from 30 families who have never been able to get back
bodies of relatives killed between June 3-9.<170>

@fsubh = Armored vehicles at speed

Barme visited Beijing last December and <169>noted visible evidence of extreme
military violence from the June 4 period. It was evident that on three sides of
the monument to the people's heroes the steps had been crushed by the
tread-wheels of armoured vehicles. If the final clearing of the square was
peaceful, why was it necessary to send in tanks, at speed, on three sides?<170>

He continues, <169>As for the crushing of the steps on the three sides of the
monument, there are no accounts of students who survived the clearing of the
square that speak of how this occurred. But we do have eyewitness accounts which
speak of a `do or die' group of protesters going back into the square after the
evacuation, as well as accounts by people who heard, around 5.30 a.m., long
volleys of machinegun fire from the square.<170>

Wu Ming participated in the hunger strike in the square. His personal account,
following Philip Knightley's comments, was published in the Melbourne <I>Sunday
Herald<D> on April 15.

At 10 p.m. on June 3, Wu Ming and others were facing armed police outside the
central government compound Zhongnanhai just west of the square. <169> As we
were standing there, a bicycle suddenly sped down a road from the west. The two
young riders on it were screaming: `The army is killing people!' We were
incredulous. How could the People's Liberation Army have possibly opened fire on
unarmed citizens? I just couldn't believe it. I didn't know at that time that
one of my best friends <193> had already been killed at Muxidi.<170>

Two hours later Wu Ming was in a crowd facing troops at Xidan, west of the
square. <169>We did not resort to any force or violence. We simply joined hands
and sang `The Internationale'. In tears, we pleaded in unison: `Turn back! Turn
back!' For some ten minutes, the soldiers took no action. Then, without warning,
the troops opened fire on us. People cursed, screamed and ran. In no time 70 or
80 people had collapsed around me. Blood spattered, staining my clothes.<170>

Later, Wu Ming was at Liubukou, close to the square. <169>A man with a Chinese
journalist's identity badge on his shirt, waving a journalist's identity card
all covered with blood, rushed towards the troops screaming, `Kill me! Kill me!
You've already killed three of my colleagues!' Then I saw them shoot him and
when he fell several soldiers rushed over to kick him and to slash at him with
their bayonets.<170>

By about 4 a.m., Wu Ming was back in the square. "<193> all the lights in the
square went off. We were thrown into darkness. After some time the lights went
on again, and immediately the troops surrounding the square began firing
indiscriminately. A girl who was about three metres from me went down with a
bullet in her head. I hurried over to wrap her head in a piece of clothing. I
still see her lying there with her blood-drenched headband with the three words
`I love China' written across it.<170>

He ran back to join the sit-in at the centre of the square. <169>By now the
soldiers and armed police had penetrated the crowd, beating, kicking and
whipping people with batons and striking at them with bayonets in an effort to
drive them out <193> Those of us who still had some strength helped the
exhausted and those in a state of shock to leave. It was chaotic. At this point
tanks were following us closely. I looked back, and on top of and immediately
surrounding the monument were 200-300 workers and students who refused to leave.
As I and others approached the edge of the square from the direction of the
monument we suddenly heard an explosion of gunfire, and the screams of people in
pain. I could not see what was happening at the monument, so I do not know how
many people were wounded or killed there.<170><F129M>I<F255D>