On 4 June 1989, events in Tiananmen Square in Beijing created a tremendous impact on Hong Kong and shattered any confidence that had remained after the signing of the Joint Declaration. The chain of events leading to the tragedy began on 15 April 1989, with the death of former CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang, who had been dismissed in 1986 for not being harsh enough on student demonstrations in 1986.1 Hu’s death led to a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations throughout China. The dissension was given added impetus three weeks later, on 4 May, with the commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the May Fourth Movement.2 On 13 May, students in Beijing started a mass hunger strike and occupied Tiananmen Square, the spiritual heart of the nation, demanding democratic reforms and anti-corruption measures. The students were joined by workers, swelling the demonstrations to over a million people. By 20 May, martial law had been proclaimed and, on 4 June, tanks and soldiers entered the Square, indiscriminately firing on the protesters.


Electoral College Direct Election Democratic Reform Legislative Councillor Joint Declaration 
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  1. 9.
    Frank Welsh, A History of Hong Kong (London: HarperCollins, 1994) p. 181.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Cited in Brian Hook, ‘Political change in Hong Kong’ in David Shambaugh (ed.) ‘Greater China: The Next Superpower?’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995) p. 196.Google Scholar
  3. 20.
    Reported in Lau Siu-kai, Society and Politics in Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  4. 28.
    Norman J. Miners, The Government and Politics of Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 5th ed., 1991) p. 24.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Flowerdew 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Flowerdew
    • 1
  1. 1.English DepartmentCity University of Hong KongHong Kong

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