The Tiananmen Square Effect

Tiananmen Square and Two Chinas
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go to link Europe would soon be rejoined. The future — our 21st-century present — would be at hand. Following decades of enforced deprivation, justified by the quest for ideological purity, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and his ruling cadre sought to change their country, but without simultaneously losing the communal zeal and nationalism that had largely defined China since its revolution. In , they proved right to worry. By April, Chinese masses were demanding change to a degree unseen in a generation.

Students began to march in favor of reform. Others quickly followed their lead. From the hinterland, protesters surged into the city. While Chinese officials debated, the crowds continued to grow in size and enthusiasm. By May 15, more than , people filled Tiananmen Square. Just two days later they would number more than a million.

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What impact have the events surrounding Tiananmen had on Chinese politics What impact have events in Tiananmen Square had on China's relations with. The tragedy that unfolded around Tiananmen Square in June had an immediate impact on China's foreign relations. Together with its.

When Deng saw protesters filling the very central square of his capital promising that "turmoil was imminent," he knew it was time to act. He was there to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, the first head of the Soviet Union to visit China in 30 years. The meeting went well. Furthermore, the session also meant that for the first time since the late s and early s, the international communist movement would not be burdened by the animosity and mutual exclusion of two of its most important members.

But the envisioned by Deng and Gorbachev was not to be. When the student protest persisted, force was employed to crush it.

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The events of Tiananmen Square shocked the whole world. They showed, often on live television, how bloody violence was used.

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This was a defining moment in 20th-century history, a moment that would begin to slowly drain international Communism of any moral strength that it once might have possessed. It was the beginning of the end. The effects of the Tiananmen tragedy ricocheted throughout the entire communist bloc, especially in the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe. In almost every East European country, the pro-democracy movements grew rapidly in the following summer and fall of The Communist leaderships were all facing difficult dilemmas — they could neither afford to take a totally defensive attitude toward the pro-democracy movements nor dare resort to violent means.

During the following summer and fall, Eastern Europe experienced great unrest, eroding the political foundation and undermining legitimacy of every Communist regime there, culminating on Nov. In Germany, the uprising masses brought down the Berlin Wall and with it the symbolic divide between the East and the West.

Somehow, the Chinese Communist regime survived the shock waves of After a three-year period of stagnation, Deng used a dramatic tour of southern China in the spring of to regenerate the "reform and opening-up" project, initiated by Deng and the CCP leadership in the late s. Twenty years after the Tiananmen tragedy and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have gained some perspective on those events, their causes, and their immediate consequences. In China itself, has been a "forbidden zone" in the press, scholarship, and classroom teaching.

Tiananmen Square Tank Man - Mandela Effect

The level of official dialogue between China and the West has fallen sharply. Western nations have suspended military relations for the most part, although some low-level contacts involving the sharing of intelligence, discussion of strategic issues, and design of weapons systems appear to continue. There have been dramatic declines in revenues from tourism down 20 percent in , direct foreign investment down 22 percent in the first half of , and foreign lending down 40 percent in , although Beijing has been able to protect its foreign exchange balances by imposing strict controls over imports.

One might have expected changes in Chinese foreign policy after June Sanctions could have produced a harsh retaliatory response. The more conservative leadership that emerged from the crisis might have adopted a more rigid foreign policy than its predecessors.

Tiananmen Square Fast Facts

And the more skeptical approach toward economic and political reform that appeared after the Tiananmen Incident could have been accompanied by a less forthcoming attitude toward economic and cultural relations with the West. Indeed, there was intense debate in China over the future of foreign policy, beginning immediately after the antigovernment demonstrations in Tiananmen Square were suppressed and lasting for at least a year, until the release of dissident Fang Lizhi from his refuge in the American Embassy in June In the end, however, proposals for a return to a relatively inflexible policy obtained little support.

In fact, Chinese policy toward the West in general and the United States in particular has becomes more moderate over time. This appears to be the results of two interrelated factors: the continuing interest of a majority of Chinese leaders in maintaining economic, cultural, and strategic ties with the West; and their growing realization that improvements in Soviet-American relations and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe have given Beijing much less leverage over Washington than was the case in the s or early s.

There have also been credible reports of differences within the Chinese leadership over policy toward both the Soviet Union and the United States, some carried in the Hong Kong press and some conveyed privately by knowledgeable Chinese observers in Shanghai and Beijing. Given the veiled nature of political discourse in China, particularly at a time of tightened political controls, it is difficult to assign these views with either precision or confidence to individual political leaders, bureaucratic agencies, or research institutions.

Nonetheless, it is possible to speculate about the sectors of the Chinese political system in which each options has found support. The changes in the Chinese leadership following the Tiananmen Incident have permitted the expression of a conservative view of international relations that draws upon a long xenophobic tradition in Chinese foreign relations, but has not been publicly espoused for almost a decade.

Two members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo—Song Ping and Yao Yilin, both close associates of Chen Yun—may also be receptive to elements of the hard-line position.

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They have warned that extensive interaction with the outside world, especially the West, risks the introduction of disruptive ideas into China. At a minimum, in their analysis, the demonstrations that swept China in the spring of showed that such contacts can profoundly threaten the political stability and social order of the country. And some of them apparently believe that foreign governments, or al least foreign news media and scholars, directly supported or instigated the demonstrations. As Sino-American relations deteriorated over human rights issues in the late winter and early spring of , for example, Vice Premier Yao Yilin reportedly suggested that China increase its economic relations with the Soviet Union as a counterbalance against a predicted decline in Western loans and investments.

By the end of , the hard-liners appeared to have settled on three other policy prescriptions, all derived from their analysis of the international environment. And third, they suggested compensating for the reduction in Chinese ties with the Soviet Union and the West by expanding relations with the remaining conservative communist regimes in Eastern Europe and East Asia, as well as promoting contacts with friendly governments in the Third World.

The second position evident in the debate on foreign policy in China is associated with the proponents of far-reaching economic and political reform. To the reformers, the international environment of the late s and early s presents China with a complex combination of opportunity and challenge.

The growing costs of military preparations, the increasing intensity of economic competition, and the relative decline of Soviet and American influence are encouraging a general reduction of international tensions. But the reformers have acknowledged that there is a less favorable side to the international environment.

Another concern has been the increasing competitiveness of the international economy, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. According to one report in a Hong Kong periodical with good sources in Beijing, a Chinese Communist Party delegation visiting the Soviet Unions in late concluded that China would find itself less able to compete with the Soviet Union for foreign capital and markets unless it quickly resumed its economic reforms.

To this end, they resisted the confrontation with Moscow advocated by the hard-liners and proposed that China continue to expand its commercial and scientific ties with the Soviet Union. Different groups of reform-oriented intellectuals reportedly presented several lists of gestures that Beijing could make to the United States to prevent a further deterioration of Sino-American relations, and to encourage Washington to lift the sanctions imposed after the Tiananmen Incident.

The reformers have also been using their analysis of the international situation to promote a speedy resumption of economic and political reform. Only the renewal of political and economic restructuring, they argue, will encourage the West to lift its economic and diplomatic sanctions and enable China to maximize its international competitiveness.


Proponents of this position have included several diplomats, military analysts, and journalistic commentators, as well as researchers in some think tanks in the capital. Among senior leaders, this third option has most likely received the support of Premier Li Peng, and, at least until the spring of , Deng Xiaoping himself. Unlike more conservative leaders, the tough internationalists believe that China should promote extensive economic connections with the outside world. They agree that China must gain acce3ss to foreign capital, technology, and markets if it is to modernize its economy, develop its armed forces, and exercise its influence as a major world power.

They acknowledge, along with the reformers, that the world is characterized by an intense competition for comprehensive national strength, and that China can engage in the competition successfully only if it more fully integrated with the international economy. They are convinced that China maintains substantial leverage in its relations with the West.

They are persuaded, despite the recent tendencies toward a reduction of international tensions, that major power rivalries have not been completely resolved. They forecast continuing geopolitical strategic implications of the emergence of Japan and a unified Germany as major regional actors. This, they believe, will continue to make China a potentially important partner for all other great powers, especially the United States.

This strategy is well summarized in an internal policy statement attributed to the Foreign Affairs Ministry by one periodical in Hong Kong:. Disintegrate the West, never yield an inch to the United States, develop relations with Japan to resist the United States and Western Europe, maintain state-to-state relations with the Soviet Union, further develop relations with [North] Korea and Cuba, and vigorously strengthen friendly cooperation with the Third World.

In the meantime, Beijing should neither make the concessions advocated by the reformers, not adopt the strong retaliatory measures proposed by the hard-liners. Instead, it should simply hold fast, waiting for the West gradually to remove its sanctions and restore a more normal relationship with China. This review suggests that the debate in China over foreign policy since the Tiananmen Incident has centered around four questions:. In all four areas, however, there have been some marginal adjustments, reflecting the general shift toward more conservative positions that has also been evident in domestic policy since the Tiananmen Incident.

Since the Tiananmen Incident, Beijing has therefore attempted to reinvigorate its ties with important Third World Nations. It restored diplomatic relations with Indonesia, which had been suspended since a failed communist coup and military countercoup in Jakarta in This simultaneously laid the groundwork for the establishment of diplomatic ties with Singapore and Brunei, which had refused to recognize Beijing prior to the normalization of Sino-Indonesian relations. The openings of a Chinese travel bureau in Israel and an Israeli academic exchange office in Beijing represent another important Chinese inroad into the Middle East.

Beijing also entertained the possibility of a closer alignment with conservative communist states in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.


Tiananmen 20th anniversary protest in Hong Kong. Walder, Andrew W. This review suggests that the debate in China over foreign policy since the Tiananmen Incident has centered around four questions:. Only the renewal of political and economic restructuring, they argue, will encourage the West to lift its economic and diplomatic sanctions and enable China to maximize its international competitiveness. Thousands were jailed, harassed and threatened.

Qiao Shi, the Politburo member responsible for internal security matters, traveled to Eastern Europe in the fall of to explore an expansion of ties with Romania and Bulgaria. Beijing significantly improved relations with Cuba, which it had previously denounced as the junior partner of Soviet hegemonism in Africa and Latin America. At the same time, China also considered normalizing relations with Vietnam, which had been severely strained since the Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia in late and the Sino-Vietnamese border war the following year. The prospect of a closer relationship with Hanoi posed a major dilemma for Beijing, however.

But they also wished to press Hanoi to withdraw its military forces from Cambodia and reduce its political support for the Phnom Penh government: a premature improvement in Sino-Vietnamese relations, it was thought, might encourage Hanoi to remain recalcitrant on the Cambodian issue. Resolving this dilemma required concessions by both sides. For its part, China abandoned its earlier insistence that the Phnom Penh government be completely dissolved and replaced by a transitional coalition government with equal representation by all four Cambodian factions.

Instead, together with the other permanent members of the U. Security Council, Beijing called for the creation of a quadripartite Supreme National Council in Cambodia, on which the Phnom Penh government might hold fully half of the sears. China also agreed that the United Nations should play a major role in supervising a cease-fire, overseeing the operation of the Phnom Penh government, and monitoring national elections. When, under pressure from the Soviet Unions, Hanoi and Phnom Penh also accepted this formula, the stage was set for an unpublicized Sino-Vietnamese summit, held in southern China in early September.

This meeting marked the tacit normalization of Sino-Vietnamese ties, although it did not yet imply a particularly cordial or extensive relationship between the two countries. Despite the normalization of its relations with Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, Beijing has understood the limitations of an alignment with the Third World and hard-line communist states.

For one thing, the collapse of conservative regimes in Eastern Europe—including both those visited by Qiao Shi in late —greatly reduced the number of countries willing to join China in an anti-Western coalition.