Comparison between the May Fourth Movement of 1919 and Tiananmen Incident of 1989
It is an age-old fact that China is the country of strict rules and laws that somehow limit the freedoms and liberty of ordinary Chinese citizens. As any country, China has gone through remarkable national and political difficulties, which, in fact, turned to be the breakthrough moments in the history of its establishment. Two outstanding and definitely tragic events like May Fourth Movement in 1919 and Tiananmen Incident in 1989 happened to be among the darkest pages in Chinese history. Both incidents significantly changed the way people have lived till that moment and showed the world community that China could be more than just the country of working potential and outcome.
It is necessary to emphasize the importance of these events, as they seemed to belong to the most disputable and discussed questions among historians and political thinkers. A vast number of different publications, scientific journals, articles, and books have been printed out concerning this issue. The first situation, which burst out on May 4 was led by nation’s dissatisfaction with the government headship. At the Worldwide Versailles Conference on the suburbs of Paris, it was dealt to pass some areas of Chinese territory to Japan. This would automatically cause the end of the World War I. Correspondingly, having been greatly outraged and furious about such decision, an enormous number of Chinese students, mainly 3000, went onto the streets to protest against the following agreement (Airaksinen 3).
Despite that at first it happened to be just the student’s movement, further, this unified discontent had very serious and grave consequences. It is believed that Chinese government is utilizing the dictatorship style of governance without taking into consideration all the essential needs and wants of its nation. However, the primary rule of the effective country leadership is to always think about citizens because the very people force the state to function and operate. At first sight, the movement was an innocent attempt to make the government pay attention to national masses, but it drew out other forgotten complaints and problems, which were deeply hidden inside of the state’s political situation.
The event can be seen as the fight between the national imperialism and imperialism in China itself. Being deprived of their core rights and policies, the nation decided to stand out to protect themselves. The May Fourth Movement lasted more than two months. The movement drew big crowds of people who wanted to support their compatriots, show solidarity and unity. The reasons for such outcome were obvious. Chinese people long to experience changes and alterations in the political system of their country.
They strived for openness, credibility, and trust. China is a quite closed and reserved country; it has had huge political and economic potential, which is why it has signed numerous treaties with Western states. Still, the government did not make attempts to improve lives of Chinese people who were generally the prisoners of Chinese system.
Having been exhausted and worn out because of all the sufferings and humiliation the nation has experienced, the people tried to impose the government to implement new policies and laws. These modern regulations had to be the reflection of the European Western political systems where nations are treated respectively and appropriately. The May Fourth Movement was already not merely the ability to show one’s own feeling of patriotism and integrity; it was the national radicalism outburst.
This national feeling newly discovered the power and strength of Chinese intelligentsia who desired to fight against Japanese authoritative leaders and Chinese warlords. The government, of course, was unhappy with such events; that is why, it tried to cease the firing situation as soon as possible. Many students were put under arrest in jails, and many were injured in various accidents. However, it did not stop people from revealing their national patriotic feelings. Thus, newspapers started to publish editorials addressed to the government to release the innocent students (Airaksinen 3).
National movements are not the rare case in highly developed countries as well as in the middle developed ones. The national movement is usually the proof that the nation does not feel enough treatment and care from the government as it should be. China in this perspective is a state of sharp restrictions and regulations that have to be followed by everyone without the exception. That is why, such event as the May Fourth Movement, which appeared to be in the end of the World War I, awoke the sleepy patriotic wisdom and spirit of intelligent compatriots who were tired to look at the country as only the machine for making profits and benefits.
The May Fourth Movement proved the fact that intelligentsia has played one of the main roles in the establishment and growth of currently developed China. Modern skyscrapers, dominant society, and influential world economy are the consequences of one of the main occasions that occurred not only on the Asian stage but also worldwide. China has set an example of a nation that is capable of protecting its rights, policies, and powers. The May Fourth Movement of 1919 was the appearance of national radicalism that had to legitimate its right to exist and be perceived. People stood out to advocate themselves for the sake of their personality significance and respect.
It was obvious that the concept of the individual was not greatly appreciated in Chinese political system. Heavy dictatorship categorized people into “being able to work” and “not being able to work hard and benefit for the country”. This is a wrong and unacceptable conception of violating core human rights and charters. The May Fourth Movement had a considerable influence on the further advancements in Chinese society. It could be proved by the measures the government decided to take while arresting the protesting students. Control and discrimination are never good tools to govern the state that strives for success, prosperity, welfare, and recognition. The May Fourth Movement already functions as the motto for the nations that experience national blossoming and want to restructure the formal system. It is a true call for respect, liberty, and love towards each personality.
Similar to May Fourth Movement in 1919, the Tiananmen Incident in 1989 took place on the same date with almost the same purpose. It is even possible to say that these events were identical in terms of purposefulness and place. However, it happened to be much stronger hit at Chinese society. The May Fourth Movement in 1919 gave some results, as the Chinese managed to give back their native lands to the country’s hands.
However, the national discontent and disbelief had a tendency to grow and increase in power. Deng Xiaoping, the head of the Chinese Communist Party, elected in 1980, has firstly been regarded as the proper leader for China. Nevertheless, the nation accepted him as their guide whom they can exemplify and follow. However, as the several years of governance passed, it became obvious that Deng’s political approach did not work on the national interests and needs (Nathan et al. 6).
Correspondingly, as during the times of the May Fourth Movement in 1919, students and higher-ranking intelligentsia stepped up to take their chances in defending and promoting the national policies. At the same time, they desired to show the government illegitimacy to the whole world, as the government did not even seek to build a favorable environment for the nation’s upheaval. Certainly, such reasons demanded the unique flow of actions and measures for Chinese people to take (Nathan et al. 6). Deng’s policies were no longer in favor of Chinese community. Students and intelligentsia were eager to get democratization and liberalization. The Western set the right example for Chinese society; however, the voices of ordinary citizens simply were not heard.
Furious and angry compatriots started to launch movements, radical protests, and social unrest. The consequences were terribly tragic and colossal. In this situation, the government did not even take into account the criticism and ordered unreasonably cruel ways of stopping the disturbances. As a result, more than two thousand people were killed during this outburst of national patriotic blossoming and awakening. No one could truly say whether it was rightful or not. Nevertheless, the end is definite – many people died upholding the idea of freedom, cultural and social improvisation, and devotion to the native country.
The politics that was valid at that time received an unrestricted critical view from the Western leaders and community. It is an understandable fact because Western societies hold in high regard the concepts of individual rights, choices, and liberty. The words “human” and “humanity” are the leading conceptual principles in the Western tradition. They are not just the words but the mottos that every person must honor and admire. This is not the general case in China. For this reason, many politicians and historians in their studies somehow even understand the actions that have been taken by Deng.
One of the foremost reasons is the inevitable chaos that is usually hardly destroyed if no measures are touched upon. The second reason is the population amount in China. This country is the most populated country in the world, so even when a small percentage of people hit the streets to begin a protest, it is a complicated issue to diminish the effects (True, The 1898 Democratic Uprising in China: A Nonviolent Perspective). Hence, there were some items that could depend upon the actions of the main leader. Nevertheless, it does not mean that the current politics can be seen as the proper reflection of a democratic approach.
Hence, the Tiananmen incident that happened in 1989 on the same square as the May Forth Movement had the special mission. It did raise China to the new level – the level of globalization and world perspective. During a couple of decades, China had seen the economic development and growth. Still, the sharp increase in prices and the ignorance of the government regarding people’s needs set the new fire among masses. That is why, the Tiananmen event in 1989 became the tragic and dark page in the history of China, but also it shed light on many problems and issues that had to be resolved in a liberal, newly programmed, and organized way.
Both occasions have actually the direct connection. While looking at the dates, it seems to be strangely symbolic that these two mind-changing and eye-opening movements happened in 1919 and 1989. Moreover, the second event can be explained as the inevitable proceeding that followed the first one to show that Chinese people felt strong identity and closeness to their native country and were ready to push the whole Chinese community towards a brighter future.
These movements deserve respect and recognition on a world scale not just because of enormous losses and deaths they urged. The strikes and protests represented the national unity, integrity, and compassion. Besides, it drew the attention of the world community, as the leaders and other states took the side of Chinese people. It drastically assisted in enduring the hardships and challenges. It is next to impossible even to imagine what it really means to pass through the psychological pressure from the government when people do not seize freedom and liberty.
China is a diverse and multicultural country existing in the multifaceted environment that always faces certain conflicts and contradictions. Simply, it is an unquestionable issue. As it is known, Chinese people are extremely devoted to their unique culture, religion, and language. This is actually what makes them so different and special. Probably, no country can be so proud of such a specific civilization as Chinese nation. It is truly an exceptional state.
Therefore, The May Fourth Movement in 1919 and the correspondent Tiananmen movement in 1989 had significant impact on further generations of Chinese society. These two happenings demonstrated the Chinese powerfulness and authority not merely in the population size but also in their spirit and soul. Some researchers may select quite odd callings for naming the political events happening in that period, like “radicalization”. That is why there are many opinions that language also affected the whole flow of history in Chinese society, claiming that language means often restrict the capabilities or incapabilities of a certain society. In the abovementioned cases, the language of political and social disorder was strong and overwhelming, which promoted great crowds to discover new sides of their identification (Haapanen 103).
Taking all the aforesaid into consideration, it is essential to admit the inevitability and importance of these bloody movements. Of course, the strikes took the lives of thousands of people that found their life more of a struggle rather than enjoyment. However, the events also pushed aside all fears and doubts concerning the nation’s weakness and impossibility to advocate own rights and laws. Regardless of all the political obstacles and discrepancies, Chinese society has displayed its unity, solidarity, and fraternity as the key concepts towards a successful and prosperous future.