23 Year Remembrance of Tiananmen Square – May 7th 1989, Beijing China

Written by Diane Gatterdam


Wang Dan with Li Shuxian wife of Fang Lizhi both advisors to the students

Twenty-three years ago on this day Sunday May 7th 1989, there was a general feeling of apathy among the students after May 4th.

The students has successfully gathered in Tiananmen Square a number of times and they knew they had the government’s attention, but now they were just waiting for officials to respond to their request for a dialogue.

Bright and early Sunday morning, Wang Dan in an effort to keep people involved, began reading transcripts of his conversations with leading dissidents, such as journalist Dai Qui, over the loudspeakers.

When enough students had gathered in the Triangle, he went down and led them in talks about various democratic movements and other subjects that he and the members of the Democracy Salon had discussed.


These talks did a lot to keep everyone focused on the issues and to maintain enthusiasm at a high level at a time when not much was happening.

After this they became a daily occurrence in the Triangle, giving students something productive to do now that they weren’t going to classes.



An encouraging signal came with the May 7th publication of the People’s Daily, which quoted Zhao Ziyang as saying that the government should consider a dialogue with the students. The newspaper also reported their request for direct talks with the government authorities.

In the afternoon, Xiang Xiaoji and Shen Tong went over to Beijing Normal for a meeting of the Dialogue Delegation. Wu’er Kaixi had changed the meeting to his dorm room, which was very small.


A dorm room in 1989 small and cramped with between 6 and 8 students staying in one room.

Other Federation members, including Feng Congde and Wang Chaohua, as well as five other students had joined them.

“The Dialogue Delegation is not a political organization” Xiang Xiaoji explained. “We want to remain separate from the Federation, both on the surface and in practice. We don’t want to be seen as a partisan group. It will be easier to deal with the government if we remain intermediaries.”

The Dialogue Delegation was formed as a bridge between the government and the students when the government labelled them an illegal group and refused to talk with them.
The Federation agreed and offered to share some internal documents that would help them in talks with he government.


Wang Dan

Wu’er Kaixi

Foreign opinion continued to reflect sympathy of the student’s effort to maintain pressure on the government, an example was the May 7th portrait of Wang Dan and Wu’er Kaixi in the Washington Post.

Quietly, there were whispers in the air about a hunger strike.

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