What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square?

I’ve heard from several Chinese American friends (now US citizens), who lived in China in 1989, that the student leaders behind the Tiananmen Square protest/massacre (April 14  to June 4, 1989) were supported by the CIA.

Oh, come on, I thought, another conspiracy theory!

However, my curiosity was stirred, so I spent hours hunting the internet for clues that this might be true. I discovered several coincidences that raised an eyebrow.

The U.S. Ambassador in China at the time, James Lilley (April 20, 1989 to 1991), was a former CIA operative who worked in Asia and helped insert CIA agents into China. President H. W. Bush served as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing (1974 – 1976) , then went to serve as Director of the CIA (1976 – 1977).

Why did President H. W. Bush replace Winston Lord as ambassador to China (1985-1989) during the early days of the Tiananmen Square incident with a former CIA agent? After all, Lord spoke some Chinese and was a key figure in the restoration of relations between the US and China in 1972.  Wasn’t he the best man for the job during a crisis like this?

I returned to my friends and asked, “How do you know the CIA helped the student leaders of the protest?”

“It’s obvious,” was the answer. The reason, my friends explained, was the fact that it is very difficult, almost impossible, for anyone in China to get a visa to visit the United States. Yet most of the leaders of the Tiananmen incident left China quickly and prospered in the West without any obvious difficulty. After these student leaders came to the West, many were successful and became wealthy.

I returned to my investigation to verify these claims. Let’s Welcome Chinese Tourists was one piece I read from the Washington Post documenting how difficult it was to get a visa to visit the US from China. I read another piece in the Chicago Tribune on the same subject. My wife told me her brother and two sisters were denied visas to the US.

After more virtual sleuthing, I learned that Wang Dan, one of the principal organizers of the Tiananmen incident, went to jail because he stayed in China when most of the student leaders fled. Today, Wang lives in the West and cannot go back. Two others went to Harvard and a third went to Yale. Where did they get the money? It’s expensive to attend these private universities.

How about the other leaders who fled to the West? “Some have reincarnated themselves as Internet entrepreneurs, stockbrokers, or in one case, as a chaplain for the U.S. military in Iraq. Several have been back to China to investigate potential business opportunities.” Source: Time

Lahsa, Tibet

Then there are the Dalai Lama and Tibetan separatists who have received CIA support. “The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA’s payroll from the late 1950s until 1974, reportedly receiving $US15,000 a month ($US180,000 a year). The funds were paid to him personally, but he used all or most of them for Tibetan government-in-exile activities, principally to fund offices in New York and Geneva, and to lobby internationally.” Sources: Infowars; The CIA’s Secret War In Tibet and the CIA. “Retired CIA officer Roger E. McCarthy published his book, which describes his role in support of the CIA’s assistance to the Tibetan resistance to China’s occupation of Tibet, which began in 1950.”

Yes, the circumstantial evidence was compelling, but maybe all of these facts are just a coincidence.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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46 Responses to What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square?

  1. […] Lofthouse Lloyd. 2010. What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square? iLook China. Retrieved from https://ilookchina.net/2010/04/05/1378/ […]

  2. […] some in-depth research that’s worth reading: What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square?And here’s an interesting update, posted on the anniversary of the Incident, about the Hong […]

  3. Josette says:

    Thank you for the information. I’ve never heard of these details about this history before.

  4. Joline says:

    I learned long ago to never accept what I read about a topic like this one without doing some research from unbiased resources. This is proof of why.

    • I learned the same lesson and my learning curve started when I was earning my BA in journalism. That’s when I discovered how faulty and biased the media can be. Now I take almost everything I read with a “grain of salt” so to speak. Thank you.

  5. SunEast says:

    The 1950’s China famine was an unnatural disaster influenced by the Global Elite in accordance to population control.

    • Interesting theory, Sun East, that there is a Global Elite causing deaths to control global population, and there may be some truth to a plot in this case because of America’s refusal to help China once the CCP was aware of the extent of the famine and the US refused to sell wheat to China to alleviate the suffering and deaths from starvation. But any plot on America’s part was an attempt to cause unrest in China so the people would rise up and overthrow the CCP and then the Nationalists in Taiwan could return to the mainland and take over with US help.

      But Canada broke ranks with the US over the total embargo of China and sold wheat to the CCP. In addition, the French duped the US and acted as a middle man buying US wheat and then shipping it to China through France. This ended a famine that could have been much worse than it was and it was the CCP that acted to bring this about by putting a stop to the five-year plan that had contributed to the famine—not caused it because a drought caused it at the same time that poor government planning was taking place—and asking the West for help. The US refused to help but Canada and France said yes and helped. I think Australia may have helped out too.

      And then there is the history of droughts and famine in China that has been documented for more than 2,000 years where in one or more provinces in China there have been droughts and famine annually with people dying of starvation. The only time in China’s history that there haven’t been famines and loss of life from mass starvation has been under the leadership of the CCP since the end of Mao’s five year plan that’s known as the (failed) Great Leap Forward. Under the CCP authoritarian rule, China has now gone more than fifty years without a famine but there have been droughts.

  6. Lloyd, your work is great! The last detail you need to add is a clear conclusion. Let me give you some clear examples, some may be wrong right away.

    The Massacre never happened
    The Massacre happened differently
    The CIA fueled the revolt to have massacre and throw China in a bad light.
    The CIA fueled the revolt and commited the massacre by themselves.

    Give me a clear conclusion please, whatever it will be. Thanks, Lloyd.

    • Nomi,

      It’s not easy to prove exactly what happened in 1989 Beijing and there is no way to pin anything on the CIA because they will never admit to anything. However, it looks like the work of the CIA. The US has attempted for decades to undermine the CCP. First, the US supported the brutal Nationalist dictator Chiang Kai-shek during the Chinese Civil War, then blockaded mainliand China for about 20 years (1950 – 1970) in addition to supporting the Dalai Lama and his government in exile that claims that China never ruled over Tibet before 1950, which is a lie.

      There is even circumstancial evidence that the CIA has supported Islaimc separatists in Northwest China, while in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US is fighting these same people but in China, it seems the CIA supports them.

      In fact, during the Great Leap Forward famine (1958 – 1961), China asked for food assistance and the US refused to supply food while millinos of Chinese were were starving.The goal of that twenty year blockade was to cause suffering among the people so the people would rise up and overthrow the CCP allowing the Natoinalists in Taiwan back in to China.

      Instead, Canada and Australia sold wheat to China and the French bought US wheat acting as a middle man so the CCP could stop the starvation and deaths from famine.

      China’s government admits people died in 1989, but not in Tiananmen Square but about a mile away when workers attacked columns of military trucks on the way to the Square.

      • Lloyd, I am very aware that the CIA won’t deliver you the facts on the silver tablet. 😀
        I am not asking you to reveal the “truth”. I was just asking for a clear stance, in case that’s possible.

        Get me right, I am very thankful for all this information. You really invest much effort into informing me.

        Now there’s one thing that strikes me: you admit that China ruled over Tibet before 1950. Why did they do it?

      • Nomi,

        It’s a long answer so here goes:

        For centuries, Tibetans were very warlike and violent and often raided into China from Tibetan mountain fortresses and there was little the Chinese could do about it. The mountains were too rugged to extend the Great Wall along China’s Western border. Then during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), one of the emperors arranged a marriage with the most powerful Tibetan king and off his favorite/loved daughter went to Tibet. The marriage was arranged hoping it would end Tibetan aggression along China’s Western border.

        Then Kublai Khan, who founded China’s Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1370), conquered Tibet and it became part of china and would stay part of China until 1913 when the British Empire, for political purposes, convinced the Dalai Lama to declare Tibet’s freedom from China. At the time China was in chaos and anarchy ruled the country.
        When the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) was established after driving out the Mongols, the new Ming Emperor sent a Han army to Tibet to take it back and kept it as part of China. The Dalai Lama was the religious head but the Emperor of China appointed the political governors and a Chinese garrison was kept in Lassa. However, the Tibetans proved to be difficult to govern and there were rebellions.

        The Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912) continued to rule over Tibet but collapsed in 1912 and the country all but disintegrated with fighting between warlords then the Civil War between the Communists and the Nationalist started in the 1920s and raged into the 1930s until the Japanese invasion with the start of World War II. After World War II, the Civil War was on again between the CCP and Chiang Kai-shek. After the Communists won that Civil War, Mao sent the Red Army in to Tibet to bring it back into China.

        You can read about some of this history in the October 1912 National Geographic Magazine or in about 50 letters that a Sir Robert Hart wrote in the 19th century. Harvard University Press published all of Harts surviving letters and journals in the 1970s.

        Anyone that wants to know the true history of Tibet and not the fiction invented by the so-called democratic Tibetan government in exile and the Western media, the history is all there in older books and magazines such as that one issue of The National Geographic Magazine, which was published before there was a Communist Revolution in Russia and more than a decade before there was even a Communist Party in China.

        Note: Tibet has NEVER had a democratic government in its history. When the Dalai Lama fled China to join the other wealthy landowners in India, Tibet was a feudal culture with 95% of the population living lives similar to that of the peasants of Europe during the dark ages (most Tibetans were serfs and slaves—yes, Tibet had slaves then and most of the people were illiterate) and the average life expectancy was 35. Today, life expectancy in Tibet has more than doubled and there are no slaves. In fact, the CCP makes it mandatory for every Tibetan to go to school and learn to read and write. That feudal culture that was ruled over by 5% of the population is no more.

        If you manage to find a copy of that National Geographic Magazine, you will discover the real Tibet before 1950 because Tibet did not change at all between 1913 and 1950 except that there was no Chinese Emperor to appoint political governors to rule over the province.

        In fact, China signed a treaty with the British Empire in the 1880s that said China was giving up any of its claims in Burma to the British Empire but part of the bargain in that treaty clearly says that the British also agreed to stay out of Tibet and the British Empire recognized that Tibet was ruled over by the Chinese Qing Emperor. That treaty is also part of history and Sir Robert Hart writes about that in his letters too.

        If China were forced to give up its claim on Tibet, then the US would have to give up its claims on all land taken during the 19th century wars against the American Indiasn and return Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico to its original people that lived there for more than ten thousand years if any are still alive.

        I do not believe that will ever happen so why should China give up Tibet just because millions of ignorant Westerners that worship the Dalai Lama, a living god, believe the fiction that has been created that Tibet was never ruled over by China?

        As for the CIA’s role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square fiction that has become part of Western belief and folklore, I can only allege that the CIA was involved because there is only circumstantial evidence. Without a trial in the US courts with real evidence, there is nothing else that anyone can say except make claims and claims are only opinions.

    • SunEast says:

      Nomi, you’re correct that the CIA perpetrated the massacre themselves just like all the other false flags they committed within the past 100 years along with the FBI domestically.

      • Sun East, there is enough CIA history to offer support for this theory. The CIA has supported brutal dictators for decades since World War II, and this has all been well documented by historians. There are also links to Nazi War Criminals who were forgiven their war crimes—in secret so the American people wouldn’t know about it—and brought to the US to help train CIA agents to fight the spread of Communism out of the USSR. This is well documented by historians too.

        There is also the interesting fact that most of the leaders of the Chinese student protestors during the Tienanmen Square incident all had Visas from America’s consulate in Beijing/Shanghai and left soon after or before the falsely alleged CCP crackdown took place. At the time, it was not easy to get a Visa to come to the US, and then most of these alleged student leaders went to expensive elite US universities—who paid for this?—and today are mostly wealthy, working capitalists. Some have even returned to China and prospered there as members of China’s rising capitalist middle class/wealthy.

  7. Godfree says:

    Here are some fascinating articles from the archives explaining why the CCP refuses to recognize the “Tiananmen massacre”, and what actually happened there. 

    The Columbia Journalism Review critiques coverage of Tiananmen:

    Britain’s Daily Telegraph:

    US State Department’s cables at the time:

    And the most comprehensive source:

    • Thank you. Very powerful information about the Real Tiananmen Square Incident. However, no matter how much of the true facts are reveled by reputable sources such as these, there will still be many that refuse to believe anything but the fiction, and I will continue to be seen by these same people as pro-China instead of only interested in the truth and fair comparisons of China to America and other countries.

      I copied a few quotes just from the piece in the Columbia Journalism Review:

      “The problem is this: as far as can be determined from the available evidence, no one died that night in Tiananmen Square. … no evidence was ever found to confirm the account or verify the existence of the alleged witness. Times reporter Nicholas Kristof challenged the report the next day, in an article that ran on the bottom of an inside page; the myth lived on. Student leader Wu’er Kaixi said he had seen 200 students cut down by gunfire, but it was later proven that he left the square several hours before the events he described allegedly occurred. … A BBC reporter watching from a high floor of the Beijing Hotel said he saw soldiers shooting at students at the monument in the center of the square. But as the many journalists who tried to watch the action from that relatively safe vantage point can attest, the middle of the square is not visible from the hotel. … It is hard to find a journalist who has not contributed to the misimpression.”

      • SunEast says:

        Hello Lloyd… Greetings from China.
        Thanks for part of the accurate history of China and the Tienanmen Square Incident facts. The Chinese government did not report any massacre because they were not the perpetrator. This has everything to do with the US and NATO in compliance to the Rothschild Dynasty to scatter the Asian countries so they cannot unite.

      • Asia’s countries have never been united and probably never will be united. Instead, they have fought wars with each other over thousands of years and most of these wars have nothing to do with the US, Nato or a Rothschild Dynasty.

        One example would be Vietnam which was conquered by China and then occupied for a thousand years while the Vietnamese rebels struggled to throw China out for that thousand years and then eventually succeeded. In fact, the CCP fought two recent and brief border wars with India and Vietnam.

        During the early part of the Qing dynasty, China invaded Burma at a great cost. Then there are the wars with Japan that go back to Chinese dynasty ruled by the Mongol’s Kublai Khan, and then the Sino-Japanese wars at the turn of the 20th century leading up to World War II. Before the Tang Dynasty, China fought with Tibet attempting to stop war-like Tibetans from raiding into China. The reason for the Great Wall is because of the nomadic horse people: Mongols and the Manchu who also raided into China over the centuries.

        Yes, colonialism under the British and French just made matters worse in recent times, but Asia, like Europe and the Americans will never be united with one purpose.

  8. jackxu1993 says:

    Hello, everyone, the telegraph have just posted a news that says that there was no bloodshed. It is convincible. Here is the link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8555142/Wikileaks-no-bloodshed-inside-Tiananmen-Square-cables-claim.html

  9. Lissa says:

    I personally know one of the leaders of the Tiananmen massacre. In fact, from what I’ve heard, it seems that there was a smaller incident before, and then later the large Tiananmen event. The students did not know what they were fighting for, or even what kind of government they wanted. My close friends both didn’t have to leave China immediately, although they did end up in the states. A large part of why so many people that led the protests ended up successful in the US is because they were mostly from Tsinhua University and Beijing University, which means that they have already been chosen as the cream of the crop (Uncontested Top Schools in China). In fact, my friends agree that the government did what they had to do, and that it was what was best at the time. Also, it seems that the soldiers did not just “blindly fire like puppets”. They showed reluctance and restraint. They tried to scare the students away because they were causing chaos and disorder. Only when the students retaliated with rocks did they fire back. There were casualties on both sides… The Man in the Tank was not a fluke, it represented how both sides felt at the time, and how the soldiers felt compassion. The chinese are deeply nationalistic, and they treasure their children. There is always two sides to a story: it is easy to prosecute and to label, but it is necessary to consider that everybody is HUMAN.

    • Lissa said, “A large part of why so many people that led the protests ended up successful in the US is because they were mostly from Tsinhua University and Beijing University, which means that they have already been chosen as the cream of the crop (Uncontested Top Schools in China).”

      True! That did not occur to me, and you are right. Thank you.

      In fact, the reason why so many immigrants that come to the US become successful is because they were bold enough to take the risk and then take advantage of the opportunities that exist in America for everyone, which many of its natural born citizens do not take advantage of. Without a constant flow of immigrants from all parts of the world willing to work hard and take risks, I’m convinced the US would be a second rate nation today and nowhere near the global power it has become.

  10. Terry K Chen says:

    I do not understand it when people say the CCP overreacted. While most of the protesting students were naive, they were manipulated by the student leaders who had their own personal interests at heart. Recently, one of the student leaders(I think it was Han dang) admitted to receiving $50,000 from the Taiwanese government. The protests started off with requests, but the requests developed into demands. The CCP representative who was sent to negotiate with the students was treated in a blatantly disrespectful manner. In China when you treat a leader and its government like that, its the same thing as telling them to give up power. There were only three things the CCP could have done at the time:

    1. Do nothing and just let the students stay there: The CCP did nothing for about 1-2 months and in this time period the country’s economy was at a complete standstill. If they had continued to do so it would have lead to something similar to the cultural revolution.

    2. Give in to the students demands: 99.99% of the students had no idea what democracy was and the student leaders did not have a plan on who would lead the country. Besides, the student leaders had more personal interests at heart and they had been secretly plotting with foreign forces for some time meaning that they probably did not have the country’s best interests at heart. Chaos and anarchy would reign, western powers would take advantage of the situation and China would be forced to give up more than half its land. The economic prosperity that we’ve seen ever since then would definitely not happen and the economy would probably actually go backwards. China would probably be a small, third-world country constantly bullied by western countries and its neighbors.

    3. Quell the demonstrations through force: This is what the CCP did and they did it in the most peaceful way possible. The only deaths that occurred was caused by students fighting back and it also lead to the deaths of many soldiers.

    Of the 3 choices, it seems pretty obvious to me that choice no.3 was the best choice. Many people say that Deng chose to do so because he wanted to keep his power. However, if that was the case, why did Deng resign from his position of his own accord not once, but twice? He basically had an emperor-like status and could have easily kept his power till the end of his days. It would be a simple matter for him to pass on his power to his family members when he died.

    • Terry,

      Look at this from a difference perspective. What would the US do in similar circumstances? If hundreds of thousands of protestors marched on Washington, camped out in the Washington D.C. Mall where all the monuments are (where one day protests have taken place before such as the Vietnam war protests) and stayed for several weeks/months demanding reforms in the structure of the government and better enforcement and monitoring of the private sector economic markets/banks to end the corruption there (that hasn’t changed much since the 2008 global financial crises), and then turned violent attacking the troops and police sent to maintain peace and order, what would the results be?

      • Lissa says:

        But that’s different. In China, the people expect their leaders to do what’s best for them, while in America we feel it’s righteous to let us make our own decisions, no matter how near-sighted they might be. Think of it like when – back in the 18th century – Washington marched his troops to quell the Whiskey Rebellion. The government has to do what’s best for its people. In the case of China, communism CAN work if done correctly, because the mindset of the people has always been (or at least, is at the moment) that way, especially in the countryside, and especially with the whole uncontested-family-authority. It’s just like Americans had always had democracy, and so naturally it worked for them, while it’s a little more difficult in other countries. In China, the citizenry isn’t educated enough because they cant fully recognize propaganda or what’s truly best. In fact, they’re not used to exercising democracy at all – there is a surprising lack of individuality or hunger for the REAL truth. And so, at this point, especially back in 1989, democracy was out of the question. (Don’t forget that China had to protect itself from hungry capitalists – AKA us.) Its a cultural divide.

      • Lissa said, “In the case of China, communism CAN work if done correctly, because the mindset of the people has always been (or at least, is at the moment) that way…”

        Good point. In fact, China worked well under the Han, Tang and Sung Dynasties — at least until the corruption set in leading to the economic and moral collapse of those dynasties (also happened to the Roman and British Empires in the West), which will probably happen again in a few centuries (and may be happening in the United States at this time).

        However, as long as leadership in the CCP is based on a merit system instead of inherited or popularity based leadership, the odds may favor that China will survive and be stable politically for centuries without a collapse.

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