Former head of the Communist Party of China, Hu Yaobang, dies of a heart attack.
Thousands of protesters gather around Zhongnanhai, the residence of top Chinese Officials near Beijing’s Forbidden City.
Protesters occupy Tiananmen Square after rumors that some students demonstrating at Zhongnanhai have been arrested.
Students stage a massive strike at Beijing University. Half of the 10,000 students boycott classes.
An estimated 80,000 people march on Tiananmen Square to the Monument to the People’s Heroes
Protestors present a seven-point demand to the government, calling for freedom of the press, more money for education and higher salaries for education workers.
Four thousand government and party officials attend a memorial for Hu Yaobang.
The government grants students the right to remain in the square during the memorial ceremony to commemorate Hu Yaobang’s death. An estimated 200,000 crowd Tiananmen Square.
People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, publishes an editorial accusing a small number of people of spreading rumors, attacking party leaders and officials by name and instigating the masses to protest.
In response to the People’s Daily editorial, a march of 50,000 students leaves Beijing University and marches to Tiananmen Square, when they arrive in the square they are joined by another 250,000 protesters.
This day marks the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the May 4, 1919 movement, known as Wu Si.
The democracy movement spreads to other provinces. Students at universities in Shanghai, Xi’an, Wuhan, Harbin, Dalian are go on strike.
Several hundred students begin a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square.
On the eve of the first China-Soviet summit in 30 years, 2,000 students are on the second day of a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. Students have equipped the square with a sound system and medical students are caring for the hunger strikers.
Education Minister Li Tieyeng holds a five-hour formal talk with Wuer Kaixi, the head of the Autonomous Association of Students.
The China-Soviet summit is a diplomatic complete failure for the Chinese government. Because of the demonstrators, the official procession in e Chang’an Avenue to Tiananmen Square, the traditional route for all officials visiting China.
The amount of protesters estimated to be in the square are one million people. About
3,000 students are on hunger strike. Beijing residents offer the students food, medicine and blankets. Taxi drivers transport protesters for free.
A general demonstration is called in Beijing. More than one million
people march in the city. The 3,000 hunger-striking students are
continually replaced with new students.
Prime Minister Li Peng and party chief Zhao Ziyang are shown on television visiting students in
Censorship in the press has been abandoned for the time being. The
People’s Daily reports on all the demonstrations and calls for support
for the students.
In the evening, Prime Minister Li Peng accepts demands to meet with
student leader Wuer Kaixi, head of the Autonomous Association of
Party Secretary General Zhao Ziyang calls for the demonstration to stop.
The students vote to end the hunger strike because of rumors that the government intends to establish martial law.
At midnight Prime Minister Li Peng gives a speech announcing the establishment of martial law. He warns the People’s Liberation Army will be brought in.
At 3:00 a.m. students react to the declaration of martial law by voting
to go on a massive hunger strike; 10,000 students immediately join in.
Civilians stop and talk to soldiers, and convince them not to shoot at the people. Martial laws passes without being enforced
All military convoys are totally blocked, barricades are constructed at
The third day of martial law and still no effect. Entire military units
fraternize with the people, giving away uniforms and weapons.
One million people walk on Chang’an, the long avenue dividing Beijing
into north and south and passing through Tiananmen Square.
Zhao Ziyan is accused of betraying the party and of being a counter-revolutionary. President
Yang Shangkun reads the list of Zhao’s crimes, accusing him of being entirely responsible for the unrest.
Zhao Ziyang’s offices are closed, and the editors of all
the main newspapers are called in and briefed on a new editorial they
must publish. The editorial details Zhao Ziyang’s alleged crimes.
Fear grows among the population. People are warned that any support
for the demonstrators will be severely punished and could lead to them
losing their jobs.
The 10-meter high Goddess of Democracy statue is unveiled in the
square. The statue, made in four days out of plaster by art university
students, looks similar to the Statue of Liberty.
The government announces foreign correspondents are not allowed to
report on Beijing without the prior authorization of the Ministry of
A first group of 500 soldiers has managed to come to the Beijing
Hotel, 500 meters from the square.
The order is given to reclaim Tiananmen Square at all costs. Tanks and
armored personnel carriers move toward the center. A group of police
officers based in Zhongnanhai attacks demonstrators with tear gas,
rubber bullets and electric truncheons. The angry population burns
jeeps and military trucks.
At 10:00 p.m. soldiers open fire on people trying to block the army’s
advance, killing and wounding many people, including bystanders.
At 1:00 a.m. a second group of tanks appears at Tiananmen Square.
Demonstrators jump on the tanks and throw stones and Molotov
At 2:00 a.m. Tiananmen Square is totally surrounded by tanks.
Automatic rifles start shooting, killing people on the square.
At 5:00 a.m. several thousand students and supporters exit the square,
leaving behind a group of hard core protesters, mostly workers, who
refuse to leave and decide to stay on as martyrs.
Throughout the afternoon more reports come in of civilians shot in all
districts. There are also reports of foreigners being injured. The first
signs of a struggle emerge between the different army units, with
soldiers actually fighting each other. The 27th Army, uses
snipers to shoot people in the head and the heart.
More than 100 tanks occupy Tiananmen Square. One man alone stops
a line of four tanks for 20 minutes.
The first non-official sources indicate 1,500 dead and 10,000 wounded
from the previous day.
Another report claims that 300,000 troops are located in Beijing, and that there is a possibility of a civil war.
The government places tanks at all crossroads. The general strike
keeps all shops closed, but the people are in the streets, riding bicycles
and surrounding the soldiers.
A Chinese Red Cross report indicates 2,600 people have been killed.
All of Chang’an Avenue is occupied by tanks, dividing north and south
Prime Minister Li Peng appears on television and announces eight
telephone numbers for people to call-in and anonymously report on people who took part in the unrest.
The People’s Liberation Army takes control of the Haidian district
where most of the university campuses are located. Deng Xiopaing
makes a nationally broadcast television appearance, speaking to the
commanders of the martial law units.
The first wave of massive arrests takes place, and executions take place.