Tiananmen Square, Then and Now

Twenty-three years ago today, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) violently cleared Beijing's Tiananmen Square of protesters, ending a six-week demonstration that had called for democracy and widespread political reform. The protests began in April of 1989, gaining support as initial government reactions included concessions. Martial law was declared on May 20, troops were mobilized, and from the night of June 3 through the early morning of June 4, the PLA pushed into Tiananmen Square, crushing some protesters and firing on many others. The exact number killed may never be known, but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand. Today, China's censors are blocking Internet access to the terms "six four," "23," "candle," and "never forget," broadening extensive efforts to silence talk about the 23rd anniversary of China's bloody June 4 crackdown. Here is that story, in images and words, Please share it widely.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • USGS / Reuters

    2018: The Year in Volcanic Activity

    Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava.

  • Jassen Todorov

    Winners of the 2018 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

    National Geographic magazine has announced the winning entries in its annual photo competition.

  • Emma McIntyre / Getty for KROQ / Entercom

    Photos of the Week: State Funeral, Mass Marriage, Krampus Parade

    A prison beauty contest in Brazil, a 3-D-printed e-motorcycle in Germany, the state funeral of former President George H. W. Bush, SantaCon in New York City, “yellow vest” protests in Paris, and much more

  • Siese Veenstra / AFP / Getty

    Hopeful Images From 2018

    I’ve made it a tradition to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year—an effort to seek out and recognize some of the abundant joy and kindness present in the world around us.