Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square

On the podcast: A look back at the student protests that changed China’s trajectory.

By , the executive editor for podcasts at Foreign Policy.
A demonstrator blocks the path of a tank convoy near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
A demonstrator blocks the path of a tank convoy near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
A demonstrator blocks the path of a tank convoy near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Thirty years ago this month, student protests erupted in Beijing, posing one of the most significant threats to the rule of the Communist Party in China’s history. The demonstrations lasted two months and grew to include a range of citizens from across China—all demanding reforms in the country. The focal point of the protest was Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing.

In May 1989, the government declared martial law. And then, in early June, the world watched in horror as the Chinese military rolled tanks into the streets of Beijing, firing indiscriminately at protesters.

On the podcast this week, John Pomfret, who covered China for The Associated Press at the time, recounts the ordeal and the legacy of Tiananmen. Pomfret had studied in China, spoke fluent Mandarin, and had many contacts in the student movement.

Thirty years ago this month, student protests erupted in Beijing, posing one of the most significant threats to the rule of the Communist Party in China’s history. The demonstrations lasted two months and grew to include a range of citizens from across China—all demanding reforms in the country. The focal point of the protest was Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing.

In May 1989, the government declared martial law. And then, in early June, the world watched in horror as the Chinese military rolled tanks into the streets of Beijing, firing indiscriminately at protesters.

On the podcast this week, John Pomfret, who covered China for The Associated Press at the time, recounts the ordeal and the legacy of Tiananmen. Pomfret had studied in China, spoke fluent Mandarin, and had many contacts in the student movement.

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