Tiananmen Square: 30 years later, what it means to next generation (audio)

Why We Wrote This

The bloody crackdown on June 4, 1989, left thousands of demonstrators wounded or dead. How has it shaped the next generation of Chinese youth? For some of our reporters, that’s a question with personal stakes.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Jingnan Peng (l.), from Beijing, and Clarence Leong, from Hong Kong, pose in a sound studio, on May 16, 2019, in Boston.

LISTEN: The reverberating effects of Tiananmen Square on China's next generation

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In the spring of 1989, thousands of Chinese marched for democracy in Beijing. At the height, as many as 1 million people rallied in Tiananmen Square – the city’s symbolic center of power. It was an unprecedented popular appeal to the ruling Communist Party for greater freedom.

But then top party leaders ordered troops and tanks into Beijing to crush the movement, in what became the bloody crackdown of June 3-4. Thousands of demonstrators were killed or wounded, and information about their movement and its violent end has been suppressed by the party ever since.

At the time, the Monitor’s Beijing bureau chief Ann Scott Tyson was a young reporter based in Beijing. Thirty years later, with the anniversary approaching, she wondered how that crucial turning point in Chinese history reverberates today – and found the perfect people right in the newsroom. Listen as she talks with our multimedia producer Jingnan Peng, who grew up in Beijing, and Clarence Leong, a Monitor intern from Hong Kong, about what Tiananmen means to their generation today.

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