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This Sceptred Isle

The Fall of the Berlin Wall & Tiananmen Square
In November1989 the Berlin Wall started to come down. It was a spontaneous action, not by the state, but by Germans themselves. Gorbachev's liberal reforms started a fire of reforms in the regimes of eastern Europe. By November 1989, the political brushfire reached East Germany. Local people climbed on to the Wall and started hacking with anything they could find even their bare hands. Czechoslovakia and Romania were next to overthrow the Communist hold on their countries.

1989 was also the year of the student massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Three thousand students were demonstrating against martial law. The authorities sent tanks and armed troops into Tiananmen Square and opened fire on the students. Hundreds were killed, thousands injured.

Deng Xaoping
Deng Xaoping
DENG XIAOPING (born 1904)

  • Deng Xiaoping was born in Sichuan province.
  • He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1925 when he was studying in Paris.
  • He went on to study in Moscow and then joined Mao's Long March in the 1930s.
  • He joined the politburo in 1955.
  • By December 1978 he was probably the most powerful man in China.
  • Only Mao Tse-tung has been held in such awe by Chinese of the past fifty years.

did you know?
Style gurus had a field day in 1989 when they were hired by MPs. The reason: this was the year that television started to broadcast Parliament.


An extract from a report by PHILIP JACOBSEN OF The Times and his encounter with a student.
...he produced a newspaper-wrapped bundle from his shoulder bag.
Beneath the first layer of paper was another, heavily splotched with rust-coloured stains, and beneath that, a crumbled shirt, once beige but now literally stiff with dried blood.
Trembling uncontrollably, he showed us what appeared to be the small entry hole of a bullet high on the back of the left shoulder and its exit hole beneath where the wearer's heart would have been.
Searching for the words in his rudimentary English, the young man told us that Zhu Song Feng, aged 22 - his friend and classmate - had been wearing the shirt when the troops opened fire on the crowd in Tiananmen Square last week-end.
The bullet had torn through his chest and he bled to death in a side street where other protesters had managed to drag him.
Delving into the bag again, the student produced a blood-stained camera case, a cheap thirty five millimetre camera and two rolls of underdeveloped colour film.
My friend was taking photographs at the moment he was shot.
We don't know what is on these films, but please take them away and use them to show what the Army did to people like Zhu Song".
A dead man's shirt, a dead man's last images through the viewfinder.
And there was still more to come: carefully unsealing the glued-together pages of a text book, the student produced two dozen colour photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Clearly snapped in haste, sometimes in a doorway or beneath a street light, sometimes in a bare room, they should other young men who had also been shot.
Some were dead, faces covered with scraps of tissue paper: some were obviously dying from terrible wounds; some gazed blankly back at the camera, eyes dulled with pain and shock, the blood still wet on their bodies.....
Could we help them, the young man asked? Would we phone the British Consulate in Shanghai to seek asylum for them there? We tried to explain that this was an almost impossible request, that attempting to seek the Consul's protection might expose them to even greater danger from the authorities here.
But by now the considerable courage they had summoned up by approaching us was ebbing fast.
It would have been inhuman not to make a telephone call at least.
Ten minutes later, we had to tell them it was no go: they sat in silence for what seemed to us for a very long moment, then shrugged and asked to be driven back to People's Square....
they strolled beside us reminding us of the importance of telling this story to people outside China, of showing their dead friends' photographs to the world.
Then they stopped, shook our hands and turned away into the swelling crowd.
That was the last we saw of them.

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Chronology
1979Margaret Thatcher PM (Conservative)
Rhodesian settlement at Lancaster House
1980Southern Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe
1981Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer
Ronald Reagan President of the USA
1982Britain wins the Falklands War
1983Margaret Thatcher wins landslide victory
1984Indira Gandhi of India assassinated
Death of poet, John Betjeman
1985Mikhail Gorbachev succeeds Chernenko as Soviet leader
1986Elizabeth II first British monarch to visit China
1987Worst storm of the century rages over Great Britain
1988George Bush wins US Presidential election
Bruges speech
1989Tiananmen Square massacre
1990Tories oust Margaret Thatcher
John Major new leader
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
1991The Second Gulf War
1993The Maastricht Treaty comes into force
1994EU enlargement negotiations end
South Africa rejoins the Commonwealth


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