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Special Feature: 1989, a Watershed in Chinese History?

The Impact of the June 4th Massacre on the pro-Democracy Movement

Jean-Philippe Béja and Merle Goldman
p. 18-28


The Chinese pro-democracy movement crushed by the People’s Liberation Army on 4 June 1989 was preceded by many protests by intellectuals. The crackdown deprived the democrats of their protectors in the Party, and forced them to change strategies. Unable to organise large-scale demonstrations, dissidents launched petitions demanding respect for human rights and reversal of the official verdict on June 4th. They were joined by the Tiananmen Mothers, who became a new force in the pro-democracy movement. Yet, China’s democracy activists remain largely isolated from the rest of society.

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Electronic reference

Jean-Philippe Béja and Merle Goldman, « The Impact of the June 4th Massacre on the pro-Democracy Movement », China Perspectives [Online], 2009/2 | 2009, Online since 01 June 2011, connection on 01 May 2017. URL :

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About the authors

Jean-Philippe Béja

Researcher Director at CNRS/CERI – Sciences Po and Researcher at the CEFC Hong Kong

By this author

Merle Goldman

Professor Emerita of History at Boston University.

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