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The Tiananmen Square protests, known in China as the June Fourth Incident were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, lasting from 15 April to 4 June 1989. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts between the demonstrators and the Chinese government to find a peaceful resolution, the Chinese government declared martial law on the night of 3 June and deployed troops to occupy the square in what is referred to as the Tiananmen Square massacre. The events are sometimes called the '89 Democracy Movement, the Tiananmen Square Incident, or the Tiananmen uprising.The protests were precipitated by the death of pro-reform Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Hu Yaobang in April 1989 amid the backdrop of rapid economic development and social change in post-Mao China, reflecting anxieties among the people and political elite about the country's future. The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy that benefited some people but seriously disadvantaged others, and the one-party political system also faced a challenge to its legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, corruption, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy, and restrictions on political participation. Although they were highly disorganized and their goals varied, the students called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. Workers' protests were generally focused on inflation and the erosion of welfare. These groups united around anti-corruption demands, adjusting economic policies, and protecting social security. At the height of the protests, about one million people assembled in the square.As the protests developed, the authorities responded with both conciliatory and hardline tactics, exposing deep divisions within the party leadership. By May, a student-led hunger strike galvanized support around the country for the demonstrators, and the protests spread to some 400 cities. In response, the State Council declared martial law on May 20 and on June 2, the CCP's Politburo Standing Committee made the decision to use military force to clear the square, leading to clashes between the military and demonstrators. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded. The vast majority of those killed were civilians, though a small number of soldiers were also killed.The event had both short and long term consequences. It was condemned by the West, many members of the Eastern Bloc including the Soviet Union, some Asian and Latin American countries and many members of the Chinese diaspora. Western countries imposed arms embargoes on China which still remain in force today, and media outlets in both the West and non-West have labeled the crackdown a massacre. In the aftermath of the protests, the Chinese government suppressed other protests around China, carried out mass arrests of protesters which catalyzed Operation Yellowbird, strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic and foreign affiliated press, and demoted or purged officials it deemed sympathetic to the protests. The government also invested heavily into creating more effective police riot control units. More broadly, the suppression ended the political reforms begun in 1986 and halted the policies of liberalization of the 1980s, which were only partly resumed after Deng Xiaoping's Southern Tour in 1992. Considered a watershed event, reaction to the protests set limits on political expression in China that have lasted up to the present day. The events remain one of the most sensitive and most widely censored topics in China.
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