Alternative Insight

The Legacy of Tiananmen Square

Part II- The Video Documentary " The Gate of Heavenly Peace"

The Significance of the documentary " The Gate of Heavenly Peace."

The BBC and Voice of America supplied the American public with most of the reports on the actions in Tiananmen square. Even Harrison Salisbury, stationed in the Beijing Hotel, less than two blocks from Tiananmen Square, relied on the BBC and VOA for the reports in his book, Tiananmen Diary. The latter reports described a "massacre" of students within Tiananmen Square.

The video documentary, "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, and shown on PBS Frontline and other television stations, presented a more reliable and factual report of the June 4,1989 events. The documentary's manuscript, which is controversial but has verification, is no longer available on Frontline's site. It is available on another site listed below. A brief summary of only the confrontation at Tiananmenn Square confrontation will be given.

One portion of this part of the video report starts with the Chinese People's army fighting their way through barricades towards Tiananmen Square in a city that was under "quasi" martial law. In these engagements the Chinese troops inflicted casualties on those who opposed their movements and suffered their own casualties. Nevertheless, the background commentary demonstrates that the students who remained in Tiananmen Square did not suffer casualties. After an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, the students agreed to leave and the army allowed them to preacefully leave the square. Years after the Tiananmen episode its legacy begins to be revealed.

  • The students in Tiananmen Square had no clear purpose for remaining in the square. They consented to leave the square only when faced with possible injury to themselves.
  • If the students massed in Tiananmen Square had left the square one day earlier, as the Chinese government requested, no civilians would have been killed. In the days before the entry into Beijing by armed soldiers, several People's Army troops had been killed. No civilians had been killed during that time.
  • The student leaders who exiled themselves to the United States have not been able to form any movement or gain support from the Chinese overseas community.
  • The undefined nature of the mass demonstration, with no fixed doctrines, organization or coalescing material has not proceeded to any democratic movement in China.
  • The Tiananmen Square demonstrations brought further repression in China and damaged rather than assisted any democratic movements.
  • Although people were killed on the side streets, BBC reports on mass killings of the students and tanks running over persons sleeping in tents in Tiananmen Square (Would anyone remain sleeping in a tent with armored cars, tanks and armed soldiers coming towards them?) appear to be contradicted by the video documentary and damaged BBC credibility.

For the report on the People's Army entry into Tiananmen Square go to:

The Gate of Heavenly Peace - June 4

Another interesting report that agrees with the Gate of Heavenly Peace documentary appears in an excerpt from the book "Black Hands of Beijing: Lives of Defiance in China's Democracy Movement", by George Black and Robin Munro (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993), pp. 234- 246.

Go to
Black Hands of Beijing

july, 2000
updated jan 2, 2002


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