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Objective chronological listing of significant events leading up to modern China.

  • January - Intellectuals in Beijing sign petition calling for the release of Wei Jingsheng and other political prisoners.
  • February – U.S. President George Bush visits the People’s Republic of China.
  • April – Hu Yaobang dies.
  • April – Crowds gather in Beijing to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang. Students ask for freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Students also demand the resignation of Li Peng.
  • April 26 – Editorial in People’s Daily claims the students are being manipulated. A ban on demonstrations is issued.
  • April 27 – Massive student demonstrations in Beijing, supported by the general population.
  • May 15 – Mikhail Gorbachev visits Beijing.
  • May 17, 1989 – Gorbachev leaves for Shanghai. Emergency Politburo midnight meeting at the home of Deng Xiaoping. Decision is made to declare martial law in Beijing. Large crowds continue to demonstrate in the streets.
  • May 19 – Zhao Ziyang goes to Tiananmen Square in the early morning to talk to the students. Li Peng declares martial law in the evening.
  • May 30 – Students from eight art academies erect the Goddess of Democracy in Tiananmen Square.
  • June 3 – People’s Liberation Army troops enter Beijing.
  • June 4 – People’s Liberation Army troops surround Tiananmen Square in the early morning hours. Most students retreat from the Square. Thousands of people killed or wounded by PLA troops in Beijing during the process.
  • June 9 – Deng Xiaoping offers condolences to PLA troops injured or killed by students and crowds that blocked their advance.
  • June 26 – Jiang Zemin, party secretary of Shanghai, is called to Beijing to replace Zhao Ziyang.
  • September - In France, students, scholars and dissidants exiled from mainland China forms the Front for Democracy.
  • November – Deng Xiaoping resigns as chairman of the Central Military Commission.


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