What Caused the Tiananmen Square Massacre?

The Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 occurred as a result of student-initiated demand for a social reform to bring better employment conditions and opportunities for the working class. The movement that ultimately resulted in the massacre was initiated by Chinese students, who were later joined by Chinese citizens in working class. Student protests began in April of 1989, during which time students demanded reforms to bring more opportunities for those people in the working class to have access to better jobs.

The student-led movement quickly gained traction, and spread throughout the urban neighborhoods surrounding Beijing. Students in the Beijing area joined together to demand democratic reforms, which inspired a national movement.

Nearly 100 million students joined the protest, and represented nearly every higher education institution in Beijing. They were joined by workers in factories, mines and offices throughout the region, and eventually from more than 400 different cities. In response to the rapidly-growing movement; however, law enforcement officers soon took up arms in an effort to quell the uprising.

Officials ultimately arrested hundreds of activists, which saved the Chinese regime from upheaval, but led to a polarized division between supporters of the government and protestors. The protests led to the house arrest of general secretary Zhao Ziyang, who was sympathetic to protestors, and ended the chance for democratic reform.