Monday, June 1, 2009

China's Under Martial Law

Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice. On June 4, 1989, at Tiananmen Square, the Chinese army enforced this law and proceeded to massacre many democratic protesters. In late 1985 through late 1986, students protested in Beijing and Shanghai. Since 1978, Deng Xiaoping, leader of the Communist Party of China, led a series of economic and political reforms, implementing a market economy and relaxing the strict system set up by Mao Zedong. However students and other reformists believed China had to further reform its political policies. They were concerned with the amount of control the Communist Party of China still had. After the death of Secretary General Hu Yaobang, known for wanting excessive reform, students met at Tiananmen Square to both mourn his death as well as protest their believed necessary changes. Students carried banners with such slogans as, “Law, not authoritarianism,” and “Long Live Democracy.” Chinese authorities did not take well to public organized demonstrations expressing dissatisfaction with their rule. On May 20, the Chinese leadership imposed martial law on the Beijing Municipality under the impression of using force to clear the square. U.S. officials however, hoped to resolve the opposing students and Chinese government peacefully. A meeting on May 23, between President George Bush and Wan Li, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, shows no record of the student organized protests ever being mentioned. Soon after, Wan left the U.S. earlier than expected and on May 27, publicly endorsed the order of martial law by the Chinese government. Soldiers and tanks were then sent to take control of the city. Many citizens actively opposed the military entry into Beijing. Protesters burned public buses and used them as roadblocks to impede the process of the military’s process. The PLA, People’s Liberation Army, attempted to clear the streets using tear gas, rifles and tanks. The assault began at 10:30 p.m. June 3, when armored personal carries and troops surrounded the square. Firing then broke out into the crowd. Students looked for refuge in torched buses only to be pulled out and continuously beaten by soldiers. Students attempting to leave the square were also beaten with heavy sticks. Rickshaw drivers went into the battle to pick up the wounded and brought them to hospitals. Soldiers were also killed by rioters throwing burning debris into their vehicles. Students were witnessed to be asking the question “why are you killing us?” Tanks continued to roll into the square, crushing vehicles and people beneath their treads. By 5:40 a.m. June 4, Tiananmen Square had been cleared. This event significantly effected both the Chinese government as well as the country’s relations with other foreign powers. The Chinese people will forever remember the massacre and the overreaching authoritative control of its government that allowed such an incident to take place. Following the deaths of democracy protesters, the U.S. placed sanctions, suspended high-level contacts, and halted transfer of military technology to China, forever tainting U.S.-China relations.