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

  • David Swindler / 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

    Winners of the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

    Winning images and honorable mentions from the four categories: Wildlife, Landscapes, Aerials, and Underwater.

  • Denis Balibouse / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 12/2–12/10

    California wildfires, the Sankta Lucia Festival of Light in England, a snowy football game in New York, Glasgow's annual Santa Dash, and much more.

  • Susana Vera / Reuters

    Hopeful Images From 2017

    After another year of news stories that produced photos which can often be difficult or disturbing to view, I’ve made it a tradition to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year.

  • KCNA / Reuters

    2017 in Photos: Wrapping Up the Year

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2017. Among the events covered in this essay, part 3 of 3: California wildfires, Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico, a farewell to the Cassini spacecraft, and much more.

Join the Discussion