The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the June Fourth Incident (in part to avoid confusion with two prior Tiananmen Square protests), were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China (PRC) beginning on 15 April 1989. The movement used mainly non-violent methods and can be considered a case of civil resistance.
Led mainly by students and intellectuals, the protests occurred in the year that was to see the collapse of a number of communist governments in eastern Europe.
The protests were sparked by mass mourning over the death of former CPC General Secretary Hu Yaobang, a Party official who had been purged for his support of political liberalization. By the eve of Hu's funeral, 100,000 people gathered at Tiananmen Square. Beijing students began the demonstrations to encourage continued economic reform and liberalization, and evolved into a mass movement for political reform. From Tiananmen Square they later expanded to the surrounding streets. Non-violent protests also occurred in cities throughout China, including Shanghai and Wuhan. Looting and rioting occurred in various locations throughout China, including Xi'an and Changsha.
The movement lasted seven weeks after Hu's death on 15 April. Premier Li Peng, a hardline conservative, declared martial law on May 20, but no military action took place until June 4, when the tanks and troops of the People's Liberation Army moved into the streets of Beijing, using live fire while proceeding to Tiananmen Square to clear the area of protestors. The exact number of civilian deaths is not known, and the majority of estimates range from several hundred to thousands. There was widespread international condemnation of the government's use of force against the protesters.
Following June 4, the government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press. The Communist Party initiated a large-scale campaign to purge officials deemed sympathetic to the protests. Several senior officials, most notably Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, were placed under house arrest.