By Yuki Zhang and Jianli Yang – Jun 4, 2023

On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops equipped with tanks and rifles fired at political demonstrators, including college students and other civilians, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Students at the square pleaded with soldiers, and some sang to them, trying to get them to stop — but bullets and tanks plowed through the crowd. The estimated death toll varies from several hundred to 10,000. More than three decades later, in late 2022, college students and other civilians returned to China’s streets to protest the draconian policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and President Xi Jinping’s dictatorial rule.

A few days before the CCP’s 20th National Congress in October, where Xi consolidated his power, a lone protester took a stand against China’s growing authoritarianism by unveiling banners on Sitong Bridge in Beijing. One of his banners read: “We want food, not COVID tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns. We want dignity, not lies.” The protester, later dubbed “Bridge Man” — a reference to Tiananmen’s “Tank Man” — was arrested and China’s censorship apparatus quickly deleted any social media posts about the incident. However, Chinese students around the world spread information about it online, and some held demonstrations in solidarity.

Then came the “White Paper” protests, a series of demonstrations that took place in cities across mainland China from Nov. 2 to Dec. 5 — the first nationwide expression of discontent, made with political demands, since the Tiananmen Square protests. And they were similar in spirit… [Continue Reading]