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Timeline of China's Tiananmen Square protests and repression

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - The 33rd anniversary of China's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Tiananmen...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - The 33rd anniversary of China's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Tiananmen Square in downtown Beijing, when Chinese troops opened fire on their own people, falls on Saturday.

The event is still a taboo subject in mainland China, and the ruling Communist Party and administration have no plans to memorialize it.

Here are some key dates leading up to the protests and the subsequent crackdown:

1988: China's economy collapses due to panic buying sparked by increasing inflation that approaches 30%.

Hu Yaobang, a famous reformer and former Communist Party head, dies on April 15, 1989. His death fuels dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reform, as well as corruption and income inequality.

Protests in Tiananmen Square began on April 17th, with students demanding democracy and reform. Despite government warnings, crowds of up to 100,000 converge.

On April 22, 50,000 students gather outside the Great Hall of the People to pay their respects to Hu. Three students attempt to deliver a petition to the government laying out their requests, but they are turned down. Xian and Changsha are both experiencing riots and looting.

Beijing students go on strike for the first time on April 24.

Around 50,000 students resist authorities and march to Tiananmen Square on April 27. Up to one million people have shown their support.

On the 2nd of May, 10,000 demonstrators march on the city government headquarters in Shanghai.

May 4: More huge protests, coinciding with the anniversary of the May 4 Movement, a student-led and intellectual-led reform movement from 1919. Protests take place at the same time as an Asian Development Bank gathering in the People's Palace. In Shanghai and nine other cities, students are marching.

On May 13, hundreds of students in Tiananmen Square launch a hunger strike.

Protests prevent the usual greeting ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People for reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's state visit, much to China's chagrin. Gorbachev is greeted by students as "The Ambassador of Democracy."

May 19: Party chairman Zhao Ziyang, joined by hardline then-premier Li Peng and future premier Wen Jiabao, pays a visit to students on Tiananmen Square. Zhao begs the student demonstrators to go, but they refuse. Zhao hasn't been seen in public in a long time. Later, he is cleansed.

Li proclaims martial law in portions of Beijing on May 20. Li, dubbed the "Butcher of Beijing" by many, remained in office until 1998.

On May 23, a crowd of 100,000 people gathers in Beijing to demand Li's ouster.

May 30: In Tiananmen Square, students unveil the 10-metre-high "Goddess of Democracy," which is modeled after the Statue of Liberty.

Students are referred to as "traitorous bandits" in a government-sponsored counter-demonstration on May 31.

On June 3rd, tens of thousands of soldiers march into Tiananmen Square. Running battles a few hundred meters (yards) from the square employed tear gas and gunshots. Protesters have been warned that troops and police have the "right to employ any tactics."

June 4: Early in the morning, tanks and armored personnel carriers launch an offensive on the square, which is cleared by sunrise. Four hours later, military open fire on unarmed civilians gathered near the square's perimeter.

5 June: A Chinese guy, who has not been identified, poses in front of a tank convoy departing Tiananmen Square. The artwork has become a symbol of rebellion against the crackdown all around the world.

On June 6, Chinese State Council spokesman Yuan Mu announces on CCTV that the confirmed death toll is around 300, with the majority of the victims being military and only 23 students. China has never released a complete death toll, although rights groups and eyewitnesses estimate that the number might be in the thousands.

June 9: Deng Xiaoping, the party's supreme leader, praises military officers while blaming the protests on counter-revolutionaries aiming to destabilize the party.

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