At Deng’s home, China’s leaders argued about what to do. For a month, Deng resisted using force. He said, “Of course we want democracy, but we can’t do it in a hurry. If our one billion people jump into multi-party elections, we’d get chaos like the civil war we saw in the Cultural Revolution….” Finally, Deng agreed to order martial law, but he wanted one more meeting with the student leaders.
The students were arrogant and demanded that the meeting be broadcast live so the nation could watch. One student leader said it wasn’t you who summoned us here. We summoned you. There was no way to bargain with them, and the students were disorganized.
The government’s negotiator said, “If you can’t control the situation and your comrades, then I won’t deal with you!”
The next day, the army was ordered into the city’s center, but demonstrators blocked roads and some army units joined the demonstrators.
One business leader warned the students not to push the party into a corner. Two weeks went by with the army and the demonstrators facing each other.
Finally, orders came to clear Tiananmen Square. Tens of thousands of soldiers moved on central Beijing. Tanks rolled down streets. There were announcements. “Stay in their homes. Democracy must come slowly step by step. You can’t grab it in the streets.”
The army closed in but the demonstrators were not afraid. Instead, they were angry. Then the army opened fire and the huge crowd turned and fled. Firebombs were tossed at military vehicles. Soldiers fired back. Demonstrators were shot and killed. Estimates of the dead ranged from 200 to 2,000. It was a disaster for both sides.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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