Posts Tagged ‘Communist China

03
Jun
09

Tiananmen Square, 1989: Tank Man

To watch a full length documentary on the Tiananmen Square protests see:  http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/educational/watch/v6255629BDXddRBn

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03
Jun
09

On This Day, June 3: Tiananmen Square

June 3, 1989

Crackdown at Tiananmen begins

With protests for democratic reforms entering their seventh week, the Chinese government authorizes its soldiers and tanks to reclaim Beijing’s Tiananmen Square at all costs. By nightfall on June 4, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared the square, killing hundreds and arresting thousands of demonstrators and suspected dissidents.

On April 15, the death of Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party head who supported democratic reforms, roused some 100,000 students to gather at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate the leader and voice their discontent with China’s authoritative government. On April 22, an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang was held in Tiananmen’s Great Hall of the People, and student representatives carried a petition to the steps of the Great Hall, demanding to meet with Premier Li Peng. The Chinese government refused the meeting, leading to a general boycott of Chinese universities across the country and widespread calls for democratic reforms.

Ignoring government warnings of suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen on April 27. The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, and by mid-May more than a million people filled the square, the site of Mao Zedong’s proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

On May 20, the government formally declared martial law in Beijing, and troops and tanks were called in to disperse the dissidents. However, large numbers of students and citizens blocked the army’s advance, and by May 23 government forces had pulled back to the outskirts of Beijing. On June 3, with negotiations to end the protests stalled and calls for democratic reforms escalating, the troops received orders from the Chinese government to seize control of Tiananmen Square and the streets of Beijing. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested.

In the weeks after the government crackdown, an unknown number of dissidents were executed, and hard-liners in the government took firm control of the country. The international community was outraged by the incident, and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries sent China’s economy into decline. By late 1990, however, international trade had resumed, thanks in part to China’s release of several hundred imprisoned dissidents.

Crackdown at Tiananmen begins [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5063 [Accessed 3 Jun 2009].

 

On This Day

1098 – Christian Crusaders of the First Crusade seized Antioch, Turkey.

1539 – Hernando De Soto claimed Florida for Spain.

1805 – A peace treaty between the U.S. and Tripoli was completed in the captain’s cabin on board the USS Constitution.

1871 – Jesse James, then 24, and his gang robbed the Obocock bank in Corydon, Iowa. They stole $15,000.

1923 – In Italy, Benito Mussolini granted women the right to vote.

1938 – The German Reich voted to confiscate so-called “degenerate art.”

1965 – Edward White became the first American astronaut to do a “space walk” when he left the Gemini 4 capsule.

1968 – Andy Warhol was shot and critically wounded in his New York film studio by Valerie Solanas.

1989 – Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died.

2003 – Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs) broke a bat when he grounded out against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The bat he was using was a corked bat.

June 3, 1864

Union disaster at Cold Harbor

On this day, Union General Ulysses S. Grant makes what he later recognizes to be his greatest mistake by ordering a frontal assault on entrenched Confederates at Cold Harbor. The result was some 7,000 Union casualties in less than an hour of fighting.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had already inflicted frightful losses upon each other as they wheeled along an arc around Richmond—from the Wilderness to Spotsylvania and numerous smaller battle sites—the previous month.

On May 30, Lee and Grant collided at Bethesda Church. The next day, the advance units of the armies arrived at the strategic crossroads of Cold Harbor, just 10 miles from Richmond, where a Yankee attack seized the intersection. Sensing that there was a chance to destroy Lee at the gates of Richmond, Grant prepared for a major assault along the entire Confederate front on June 2.

But when Winfield Hancock’s Union corps did not arrive on schedule, the operation was postponed until the following day. The delay was tragic for the Union, because it gave Lee’s troops time to entrench. Perhaps frustrated with the protracted pursuit of Lee’s army, Grant gave the order to attack on June 3—a decision that resulted in an unmitigated disaster. The Yankees met murderous fire, and were only able to reach the Confederate trenches in a few places. The 7,000 Union casualties, compared to only 1,500 for the Confederates, were all lost in under an hour.

Grant pulled out of Cold Harbor nine days later and continued to try to flank Lee’s army. The next stop was Petersburg, south of Richmond, where a nine-month siege ensued. There would be no more attacks on the scale of Cold Harbor.

Union disaster at Cold Harbor [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2196 [Accessed 3 Jun 2009].

25
May
09

On This Day, May 25: The Constitutional Convention

May 25, 1787

Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s “Virginia Plan.” Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. Virginia’s governor, Edmund Randolph, presented Madison’s plan to the convention. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures. Madison’s conception strongly resembled Britain’s parliament. It omitted any discussion of taxation or regulation of trade, however; these items had been set aside in favor of outlining a new form of government altogether.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the “New Jersey Plan,” as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states. But, the plan also gave Congress new powers: the collection of import duties and a stamp tax, the regulation of trade and the enforcement of requisitions upon the states with military force.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve “on good behavior.”

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

“Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=633 (accessed May 25, 2009).

 

On This Day

585 BC – The first known prediction of a solar eclipse was made in Greece.

1810 – Argentina declared independence from Napoleonic Spain.

1844 – The gasoline engine was patented by Stuart Perry.

1925 – John Scopes was indicted for teaching the Darwinian theory in school.

1953 – In Nevada, the first atomic cannon was fired.

1961 – America was asked by U.S. President Kennedy to work toward putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

1968 – The Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, MO, was dedicated.

1977 – An opinion piece by Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs appeared in “The Washington Post.” The article called for a national memorial to “remind an ungrateful nation of what it has done to its sons” that had served in the Vietnam War.

1999 – A report by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China concluded that China had “stolen design information on the U.S. most-advanced thermonuclear weapons” and that China’s penetration of U.S. weapons laboratories “spans at least the past several decades and almost certainly continues today.”

2008 – NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander landed in the arctic plains of Mars.

May 25, 1977

Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare

A new sign of political liberalization appears in China, when the communist government lifts its decade-old ban on the writings of William Shakespeare. The action by the Chinese government was additional evidence that the Cultural Revolution was over.

In 1966, Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of the People’s Republic of China, announced a “Cultural Revolution,” which was designed to restore communist revolutionary fervor and vigor to Chinese society. His wife, Chiang Ching, was made the unofficial secretary of culture for China. What the revolution meant in practice, however, was the assassination of officials deemed to have lost their dedication to the communist cause and the arrest and detention of thousands of other officials and citizens for vaguely defined “crimes against the state.” It also meant the banning of any cultural work–music, literature, film, or theater–that did not have the required ideological content. By the early 1970s, however, China was desperate to open new and improved relations with the West, particularly the United States, partially because of its desire for new sources of trade but also because of its increasing fear of confrontation with the Soviet Union. President Richard Nixon’s 1973 trip to China was part of this campaign. In October 1976, the Cultural Revolution was officially declared ended, and the May 1977 announcement of the end of the ban on the works of William Shakespeare was clear evidence of this. It was a move that cost little, but was sure to reap public relations benefits with Western society that often looked askance at China’s puritanical and repressive cultural life.

Together with the announcement that the ban was lifted, the Chinese government also stated that a Chinese-language edition of the Bard’s works would soon be available.

“Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2678 (accessed May 25, 2009).




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