Worldview

The Legacy of Tiananmen Square, 30 Years On

Chicago-based writer and journalist Wen Huang (second from right) participated in the 1989 protests in Beijing. Courtesy of Wen Huang

Julian Hayda
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Thirty years ago Monday, student-led demonstrations formed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate the death of popular Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang. Over the next few days, the relatively disorganized group started to call for broad changes, including an end to press censorship, lower prices for commodities and an end to corruption. The central government responded with martial law and a military mobilization to forcibly clear the square. By June 4, countless civilians were killed in what would later be known as the Tiananmen Square massacre in the West, and as the June 4 incident in China. Independent journalist and writer Wen Huang joins us to talk about how the incident shaped Chinese politics and society, as well as how it informs modern movements for autonomy and independence in Hong Kong. Also joining us is Justin Tse, a visiting assistant professor of Asian American studies at Northwestern University and an incoming assistant professor in humanities at Singapore Management University.