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Tiananmen Incident

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(Redirected from Tiananmen incident)
For the protests of 1989, see Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

The Tian'anmen incident took place in the People's Republic of China immediately following the April Fifth Movement. It was catalyzed by the death of Zhou Enlai on January 8 1976.

Before Zhou Enlai's death he had been involved in a power struggle with others in the politburo, the infamous Gang of Four led by Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's wife. Mourning for Zhou was limited by directives of the Communist Party of China, the flag, for example, being lowered to half-staff for only one hour.

April 4 is celebrated in China as Qing Ming Jie, a holiday. Prior to Qing Ming Jie, mourners had begun placing paper wreaths at the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square as well as white paper chrysanthemums. On April 4 there was an outpouring of wreaths at the Monument as hundreds of thousands of Beijingers flocked to the square. Of particular interest were many handwritten poems that were posted there. On the surface, these poems could appear to a nave observer to commemorate ancient events from Chinese history, but they actually expressed critical sentiments regarding those in power in China while allowing some distance to be kept between the protesters and the wrath of the government (see Jan Wong's account of these poems in Red China Blues). For example, one poem implicitly criticized Jiang Qing by attacking the Empress Wu Zetian, a 7th century Tang Dynasty empress who ruled after her husband died.

Such a massive outpouring of sentiment alarmed the government. In an emergency session meeting, the Politburo in the Great Hall of the People just west of the Square determined to remove all the wreaths and poems. This was done that night.

The next day tens of thousands of citizens returned to the Monument in Tiananmen Square and were dismayed to find the wreaths and other materials removed and a police cordon preventing approach to the Monument. Things became rowdy, and inside the Great Hall of the People China's rulers were alarmed. After consultation with Mao, it was decided to use force to clear the square. Mao authorized the use of force but not guns.

That evening when only a few thousand protesters remained they were driven from the square by militia armed with clubs. Four thousand were arrested. Sixty were dragged into the Great Hall of the People, beheaded and later shipped to Shanghai and secretly cremated.

Deng Xiaoping, who had been an ally of Zhou Enlai, was demoted and went into exile in Guangzhou, from which he emerged a year later and assumed power after Mao's death and the fall of the Gang of Four.

See also: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

Further reading

Red China Blues, Jan Wong, Doubleday/Anchor Books, New York, 1995, hardcover, 406 pages, ISBN 0-385-47679-5

External link

ja:四五天安門事件

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