The following is a Chinese language post penned by 老气横秋 who participated and witnessed the Tiananmen Incident 1989 and its English translation. Photos and captions are added by Fish. 

May 18, 1989, Beijing factory workers joined the anti-corruption movement taking place in the Tiananmen Square initiated by university students. The corrupted officials were mainly referring to Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping’s eldest son, and Zhao Dajun, the son of Zhao Ziyang, the general secretary of CCP at the time.  

When the Tiananmen Incident occurred in 1989, I was in my last year of study at university. At the time many students mentioned the protest movement at the same breath as the May 4th Movement 1919 and refused to go back to the classroom but devoted to the street protests. Some of them were folks full of revolutionary spirit, others were just followers of the trend or onlookers of the political drama or even the miserable individuals using this opportunity to vent their anti-social urge.

By then a student ID was just like a travel pass: with that, you could board the underground trains, the buses or call taxis – no one would ask you to pay the fare. Ordinary citizens were all willing to help.

A crowded Tiananmen Square during May and early June 1989

Initially, I was keen to contribute my part to the crusade against official corruption in China. In the first two months, I would travel to Tiananmen Square during the day and return to the campus to watch the evening news on television, witnessing the freshly created history unfolding. But gradually I began to question the objectives of and the methods adopted by the movement, and suspect where the “student leaders” really intended to lead us. I was rather confused and got sick and tired of the whole thing, and became more of an onlooker than a participant. However, I still had great sympathy for the students taking hunger strikes on the square, but seriously doubt whether it was worth it for them to ruin their health.

The extent of the crowd on Tiananmen Square in May 1989

On the evening of June 3, while the radio and tv news kept urging people to stay away from the square, some students on the campuses tried to organise larger crowds to block the military convoy and join the protesters in the square. When I heard the troops marched towards the CBD from Pingguoyuan (苹果园) and Bajiaocun (八角村) in the west, I decided to go to take a look with a few friends. On the way, we noticed damaged military vehicles, as well as civilian cars. Some of the protesters behaved like thugs who would smash any vehicles on the road. I saw the front window of a car was broken and the driver jumped out to shout angrily at the protesters: “Hi, this is my own car, not the military vehicle, can’t you see it?”

The military vehicles passing the overhead bridge in Xidan in early June 1989

We eventually didn’t go to the square but returned to the campus. Everyone knew what was going to happen on the square that night. To my understanding, those who still headed for the premises on that particular day were three kinds of people: the extremists, the guys who harboured a genuine hatred towards the community in general and their school in particular, or the folks who suffered from severe brain damage.

When we woke up the next morning on June 4th, we heard the news saying military force occupied and “blood-washed” Tiananmen Square. We hurriedly counted the fellows in our class and found one person missing. Just when we thought this guy must have tragically given his life to his faith and felt terribly sad about that, this jerk returned in one piece – he paid a visit to a friend and spent a night there.

There were two or three students uncounted for at our university. I don’t know what exactly happened to them. However, during the entire so-called Tiananmen Incident, I did not see one dead body, nor did I hear anyone I personally knew died in the event.

The university was closed afterwards and we went home for a holiday. About three weeks later, everybody returned to the campus, and life resumed again.


作者:老气横秋 (2009)

89年我是大学最后一个学期,突然爆发了这个学生运动,当时很多同学都把它和“五四运动”相提并论。 各大学校都罢课了。很多学生或满腔热情,或盲目随从,或看热闹的,或发泄各种不满的,就都“投身到这次伟大的运动”中去了。








4 thought on “An Eye-Witness Account Of The Tiananmen Incident 1989”
  1. Trump want to build the 3rd temple in Jerusalem. If he is re-elected I have no doubt he will. The end of the world is said to follow the construction of a third Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which according to some, will be a prophetic sign of the biblical apocalypse.

    1. The danger is this mad man has a finger on the nuke button.

      For religious extremists like Trump, anything is possible, including destroying the entire humanity for their alien god’s kingdom on earth.

  2. Most likely it is just a bad translation “thought this guy must have tragically given his life to his faith and felt terribly sad about that, this jerk returned in one piece” but this statement in giving mixed messages. Agree with a lot of his sentiments though. Seeing the same thing here with so many undermining true justice for George Floyd with their acts of violence.

    1. Hahaaa, I see your point, Paul.
      Talking about faith, I’ve just read Donut Trumpet’s tweets – he regards himself as the “king of Israel”, the “king of God” and the “second coming”. No wonder he would order police to violently attack Aussie news crew and disperse the peaceful demonstrators half an hour before the curfew took place, all because the king of God was coming to the church.
      He must have some serious mental problems.

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