because of his people-oriented policies. But, later in life, he was forced to resign,
without any clear causes. Initially, people began to gather in Tiananmen
Square to mourn Hu Yaobang and attend his funeral. However, their sorrow soon
turned to rage against the government as they started to wonder why he really was forced
to resign and to demand more civil liberties.
In late April 1989, hundreds of thousands protesters, mostly students, wielding
placards and banners, began to gather at Tiananmen Square. In addition to Hu Yaobang's
death, the protesters chose this time for their demonstrations because Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev would be visiting, and the attention of the world media would be on
China2. As such, leaders were instantly chosen, and a series of dialogues were set up
with the government, however, these were largely unsuccessful. The protesters were
largely peaceful, but a few minor scuffles with police, resulting in injuries, were reported
Soon, the students were joined by people from all walks of life-people who were
looking for reforms in the government--teachers, doctors, factory workers, judges, and
even some police officers and soldiers. Thousands of tents were enacted as they were
intending to stay in the square for several days. Unhappy with the proceedings, the
government resorted to cutting off the water supply to the square in an attempt to make
the students disperse, but the protesters simply brought in water from other sources in
Beijing. They engaged in dialogues with the government, but when the government, at
first, refused to comply with their demands for democracy, they decided to go on a
hunger strike-the goal was to force the government to cooperate with the protesters, or
Journal Title: World Affairs. Volume: 152. Issue: 3. Publication Year: 1989. Page Number: 148.
This is a very useful journal on the hunger strike. It contains detailed account of the purpose of the hunger strike, and as such, quite useful for anyone who wishes to know the ultimate motives of the agitators.