James Miles has a unique insight into the way China works based on over 20 years' experience as a correspondent there.
He was the BBC's China correspondent in 1989 when he was eye-witness to the events leading up to the Tiananmen Square protests
Miles describes what it was like to witness such a moment in history and why the crackdown was so brutal.
He considers how the Tiananmen Square massacre shaped the China we see now.
But most of all, how important the protests were for China. Were they an aberration which has been crushed forever? Or could those cries for democracy re-emerge as China grapples with the effects of the global economic crisis.
First broadcast on Wednesday 27 May 2009.