China's Post-Tiananmen Model Is Faltering

China's Post-Tiananmen Model Is Faltering

Deng's succession blueprint, and his decision to use lethal force to quell the 1989 massacre of unarmed protestors, were both shrewd, long-term political calculations. Deng's police could have cleared Tiananmen Square using billy clubs. It had been done when the government cleared the Square of a similar large demonstration on April 5, 1976 that grew out of mourning for the death of Premier Zhou Enlai; that repression, although violent, resulted in only a few injuries and apparently no deaths. Water hoses and tear gas could have worked against the students in 1989, too, but Deng chose tanks and machine guns. His calculation that a dramatic show of force would buy him about two decades of popular docility all across China was correct.

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