The Chinese army crackdown on the protests in and around Tiananmen Square was 25 years ago today. According to estimates by the Chinese Red Cross (accepted at the time by the U.S. State Department) some 2,600 protesters and military were killed and another 7,000 wounded.

This declassified State Department cable (June 22, 1989) provides the account of a witness to the violence on the night of June 3-4. The students believed that the military would be firing rubber bullets. The witness tells that “he had a sickening feeling when he noticed the bullets striking sparks off the pavement near his feet.”

This second declassified cable provides an hour-by-hour chronology of the events of the night of June 3-4, 1989.

While difficult to read, these documents tell the story as American diplomats reported it.


NewMexiKen took this photo in Tiananmen Square just three years after the events there. The building in the background is the Great Hall of the People. At left is the Monument of the People’s Heroes.