23 Year Remembrance of Tiananmen Square – May 5th 1989, Beijing China

Written by Diane Gatterdam

Twenty-three years ago on this day Friday May 5th 1989 students were elated that the march to Tiananmen the day before delivered a strong statement and went without incident.

The Triangle at Beida.

Beida University students posted notices in the triangle stating that the strike would continue, same at Beijing Normal. Most campuses ended the boycott and reluctantly went back to class.

This poster talks about the students on strike.

Later that day the Preparatory Committee announced that each department at Beida would take a vote about the boycott at noon the next day and votes would be tabulated and announced at 4pm the following day giving the students enough time to contact other schools and agree to on strategy.

Map of the Beida- (Peking University)

Beida students meet to discuss the next phase of work.

The responsibility for bring the demands of the students before the government fell squarely on the Dialogue Delegation. The first formal meeting was held at the Universality of Political Sciences and Law, lead by Shen Tong and Xiang Xiaoji in a conference room that was packed full of students who wanted to participate.

They agreed to follow Xiang Xiaoji’s suggestion for dividing the substance of the dialogue into three parts:
1. The current student movement
2. The advancement of real reform
3. The clause of the Chinese constitution that guarantees the right to speak and assemble.

They broke up into three groups and agreed to meet everyday and to study the speeches of high-ranking officials looking for any internal struggle going on, especially between Li Peng and Zhao Ziyang.

The Provincial–level units filed reports on the local responses to Zhao’s talk. All the provinces endorsed Zhao’s fair, balanced, calm appraisal and acknowledged that his strategy would help calm things down.

The foreign press portrayed the student movement as passionate, sincere and spontaneous. The London Independent quoted Harvard Political Science Professor Roderick Mac Farquhar, was warning the Chinese Government not to make the mistake of creating a student martyr around whom a nationwide movement similar to Poland’s Solidarity might coalesce.

Other reports highlighted a fact that would have seemed threatening to Zhongnanhai stating that long time dissidents at home and abroad were participating in the movement.

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