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Saturday, 24 May 2014

What if: The PRC never used force at Tiananmen Square?

From the 15th April to June 4th 1989 one of the major events of the Cold War in Asia took place. Students and intellectuals protested in Beijing and 300 other Chinese cities peacefully protested against the government's treatment of the deceased Hu Yaobang, political corruption, human rights abuse and nepotism from the PRC's leader Deng Xiaoping. On June 4th Type 59 tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square with one single man, 'The Tank Man', standing in their wake. The protests ultimetly ended with the highest estimated death toll at 6,000. However what would have happened if the Communist Politburo elite hadn't decided to use force?

I see two scenarios. The first is that there is a political crisis. Martial law is not enforced and the protestors gain more and more support from the Chinese populace and the USA. Possible in some of the major cities riots even break out. With more and more pro-democracy supporters gaining control there is a cabinet reshuffle and instead of the moderates like Zhao Ziyang being purged from the party the hardliners are forced to step down. Like in our timeline Jiang Zemin would be major in Chinese politics but overall the public become pro-democracy. Zemin and Ziyang would continue their reforms and like in Gorbachev's USSR freedom of speech is less repressed. However the students who organised the protest like Chai Ling would become major political activists who would still protest against the Maoist dictatorship which would be spurred on by increasing Western influence and the fall of the USSR in 1991. Around 1996 the PRC would have to hold its first non-corrupt election to which the Communist party would lose ending the PRC and possibly seeing reunification with Taiwan.

The second is much more deadly: Civil War. The country would be split into hardline Maoists and the new pro-democracy revolutionaries. Personally, (feel free to disagree), I believe the democray supporters would win with the USSR unwilling to send troops, the overall sympathy the public has to the revolutionaries after years of Communist rule and support from the USA, Japan and South Korea. Most likely in this scenario separatist movements in Tibet, Turkestan and Xinjiang would aid the democracy supporters, winning their independence after the war but Xinjiang's and Turkestan's would be challenged similarly to how Russia has challenged Ukraine's (cough cough Putin). The new democratic nation would hail Hu Yaobang and Sun Yat-sen as the heros of China but the country would be suffering from huge loss of life and economic burden from the intense civil war.

Thanks for reading and please comment about the scenario and give your opinions as well as other scenarios you want. This is my first time blogging so I will happily take any suggestions to improve.

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