News World On This Day: Chinese students march in pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests

On This Day: Chinese students march in pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests

Thousands of Chinese students with the support of Beijing residents marched in pro-democracy protests. Photo: Getty
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On this day in 1989, enormous crowds of Chinese students and new-found supporters marched through major cities in China to fight for democratic freedoms.

The march was part of a series of mass demonstrations known as the Tiananmen Square protests.

Frustration had been growing over the Chinese Communist Party’s tough limits on political freedom, as well as ongoing economic troubles, poor living conditions and high rates of unemployment.

At the time, many people were poor in China and no matter how hard they worked, they were unable to lift themselves out of poverty.

The students wanted better workers’ rights and the freedom to speak their minds without fear of punishment.

The march on April 27 was held in response to an editorial published a day earlier in the People’s Daily that asserted the student movement was anti-Communist Party and anarchist.

The article enraged students, who interpreted it as a direct attack on the protests and its cause.

A student leader quotes the Chinese Constitution articles about press freedom to fellow protesters on April 27, 1989. Photo: Getty

An estimated 50,000 to 200,000 protesters attended the march in Beijing – the largest protest in the country’s capital since 1949 – which ended at Tiananmen Square.

By this time, it wasn’t just students who were protesting – nurses, doctors, scientists, families and other sectors of society joined in too.

Although the demonstrations were peaceful, growing support of the movement worried government officials who feared they were losing their grip on power.

The Tiananmen Square protests continued throughout the year until the horrific events of June 4, when troops marched into Beijing and opened fire on thousands of demonstrators and bystanders in what became known as the Tiananmen Square massacre.

A powerful image of an unidentified man standing alone in front of a column of Chinese tanks on June 5 became world famous.

A lone protester blocks a convoy of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests. Photo: Getty

To this day, the Communist Party continues to downplay its bloody crackdown on the peaceful protesters.

People who speak out against the party have been known to mysteriously disappear.

Read: Chinese newspaper hits out at US and western critics over Tiananmen Square tributes