May 18, 1989 (a Thursday)

18 May 1989.   Beijing University students during a huge demonstration at Tiananmen Square start an unlimited hunger strike, part of the mass pro-democracy protest against the Chinese government. Photo credit Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images.

18 May 1989. Beijing University students during a huge demonstration at Tiananmen Square start an unlimited hunger strike, part of the mass pro-democracy protest against the Chinese government. Photo credit Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images.

On this date, a crowd of protesters, estimated to number more than one million, marched through the streets of Beijing with songs, slogans, and banners calling for greater democracy and the ouster of some hard-line Chinese officials.

China, Beijing, Tian'anmen Square. 18 May 1989. Trucks arrive from all over the city as well as from the country.

China, Beijing, Tian’anmen Square. 18 May 1989. Trucks arrive from all over the city as well as from the country.

Also, this morning Li Peng, member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee and premier of the State Council, and others met with representatives of the students, who had been fasting at Tiananmen Square, at the Great Hall of the People. On the evening of May 18th, Party elders and Politburo members, including Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, approved the declaration of martial law.

Chinese workers parade through Beijing streets, 18 May 1989, in support of student hunger strikers gathered at Tiananmen Square. Photo credit Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images.

Chinese workers parade through Beijing streets, 18 May 1989, in support of student hunger strikers gathered at Tiananmen Square. Photo credit Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images.


The protests were part of the months-long movement to occupy Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, which culminated in the brutal repression of June 1989. In the wake of the crackdown, the Chinese government condemned the protests as a “counter-revolutionary rebellion”, though it has never publicly accounted for those killed. The massacre caused horror around the world, and China was marginalized by the international community, but as Deng Xiaoping reportedly said: “The West always forgets.

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3 responses to “May 18, 1989 (a Thursday)

  1. Many thanks. Will do!

  2. Hello Professor Olsen,
    My name is Jenna Dur and I am currently working as a research assistant for Dr. Timothy Cheek at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Cheek is working on a scholarly monograph entitled The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History, to be published by Cambridge University Press later this year.

    I am writing to arrange permission and a high resolution copy of your photo of a “Chinese workers parade through Beijing streets, 18 May, in support of student hunger strikers gathered at Tiananmen square.” Dr. Cheek would like to use this photo for Chapter 5 of his book, Reviving Reform: Correcting Revolutionary Errors (1976-1995). Would you be willing to have this photo published in an academic book? Could you please email me with information about your rates and the availability of the photograph?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you,
    Jenna Dur
    jadur20@hotmail.com
    Dr. Timothy Cheek
    tcheek@mail.ubc.ca

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