Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square, large public square in Beijing, China, on the southern edge of the Inner or Tatar City. The square, named for its Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), contains the monument to the heroes of the revolution, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall (with Mao's embalmed body). Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic in the square on Oct. 1, 1949, an anniversary still observed there.

A massive demonstration for democratic reform, begun there by Chinese students in Apr., 1989, was brutally repressed on June 3 and 4. It was initiated to demand the posthumous rehabilitation of former Communist Party Chairman Hu Yaobang. The government was tolerant until after his funeral; then Deng Xiaoping denounced the protests. The demonstrators were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, until over a million people filled the square. General Secretary Zhao Ziyang expressed sympathy, but lost out to Deng, who supported the use of military suppression. Martial law was declared on May 20. The protesters demanded that the leadership resign, but the government answered on June 3–4 with troops and tanks, killing thousands to quell a "counterrevolutionary rebellion." Zhao was dismissed and a number of the student leaders were arrested.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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