Morehead State University

Poster Title

Cries for Democracy: The Causes of the 1989 Student Protests at Tiananmen Square

Institution

Morehead State University

Abstract

his actions that led to the Cultural Revolution and the lessening of civil liberties. After his death Deng Xiaoping rose to power and backed Hu Yaobang as General Secretary of the Communist Party. Hu worked to make government more transparent and restore civil liberties. While opposing leadership removed Hu from power, after his death supporters protested the government’s actions against him. Many supporters were university students who worked in Hu’s memory for democracy. Feeling ignored by their government, the demand for democracy grew. The May 1989 Hunger Strike prompted President Yang Shankun to call for martial law and greatly intensified the movement on both sides. An internal struggle between China’s people and government threatened to rip the country apart and eventually led to the June 4th Massacre. Yet other sectors of the population did not join the movement and it did not spread outside of Beijing. If the government was so corrupt, then why did other sections of the population not participate more? This research explains why the movement was limited to university students and Beijing and uses a variety of primary sources such as contemporary speeches and memoirs as well as telegraphs among Western embassies. By examining the protest movement from both the inside and outside one can better understand the motivations of the Chinese people as well as why the movement was doomed to fail.

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Cries for Democracy: The Causes of the 1989 Student Protests at Tiananmen Square

his actions that led to the Cultural Revolution and the lessening of civil liberties. After his death Deng Xiaoping rose to power and backed Hu Yaobang as General Secretary of the Communist Party. Hu worked to make government more transparent and restore civil liberties. While opposing leadership removed Hu from power, after his death supporters protested the government’s actions against him. Many supporters were university students who worked in Hu’s memory for democracy. Feeling ignored by their government, the demand for democracy grew. The May 1989 Hunger Strike prompted President Yang Shankun to call for martial law and greatly intensified the movement on both sides. An internal struggle between China’s people and government threatened to rip the country apart and eventually led to the June 4th Massacre. Yet other sectors of the population did not join the movement and it did not spread outside of Beijing. If the government was so corrupt, then why did other sections of the population not participate more? This research explains why the movement was limited to university students and Beijing and uses a variety of primary sources such as contemporary speeches and memoirs as well as telegraphs among Western embassies. By examining the protest movement from both the inside and outside one can better understand the motivations of the Chinese people as well as why the movement was doomed to fail.