The Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, commonly referred to as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, were a series of demonstrations led by students, intellectuals, and labor activists in the People's Republic of China between April 15 and June 4, 1989. While the protests lacked a unified cause or leadership, participants were generally critical of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and voiced complaints ranging from minor criticisms to calls for full-fledged democracy and the establishment of broader freedoms. The demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but large-scale protests also occurred in cities throughout China, including Shanghai, which stayed peaceful throughout the protests. In Beijing, the resulting military crackdown on the protesters by the PRC government left many civilians dead or injured.
The 38th Army surprisingly sided openly with the protesters, aiding a blockade of the central city, further escalating the situation and the subsequent government reprisals.
By May, the protests had begun to sprout across the country, including large scale protests in Shanghai, and Hong Kong. With the arrival of the 27th and 28th armies in Beijing, the protesters knew that their days were drawing to an end, and that it was a matter of time before the armies broke through the protection of the 38th Army.
The "Standing Man" immortalized the protests in western minds, and when full scale revolution began in Shanghai and Hong Kong, western countries were quick to supply clandestine aid.
The death toll ranges from 200–300 (PRC government figures), to 800–1200 by The New York Times, and to 4,000–5,000 (Chinese student associations and Chinese Red Cross). This is not including the death of members of the 38th Army.
The crackdown on June 4th incited the outbreak of riots and revolution in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nanjing and Fujian, and by July, most major cities across China were experiencing some level of unrest despite the curfew.
With the arming of Chinese nationals in Hong Kong by clandestine British and American forces, the stage was set for the Chinese Civil War 1990-1996.