Thursday marks the anniversary of when China bloodily suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations in and around central Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when Chinese troops opened fire on their own people.
Here are some landmark dates following the 1989 demonstrations:
1990: China’s economic growth sinks to 3.9% due to international sanctions sparked by the Tiananmen crackdown. The Shanghai Stock Exchange, Communist China’s first ever stock market, opens.
1992: Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping tours southern China to press for faster economic reforms and quell the influence of Party conservatives opposed to market liberalisation.
1994: China devalues the yuan by 33% overnight as part of reforms to embrace a “socialist market economy”.
1997: Deng dies in February. British colony of Hong Kong reverts to Chinese rule in July. President Jiang Zemin visits the United States later that year, the first trip by a Chinese head of state in more than a decade and breaking China out of diplomatic isolation in the post-Tiananmen period.
1997: Asian financial crisis breaks out and China wins wide praise for keeping the yuan stable despite pressure to devalue.
1998: U.S. President Bill Clinton visits China. Zhu Rongji takes over as premier, reforming lumbering state-owned enterprises and laying off millions, cracking down on smuggling and revamping the health care system.
2001: China joins the World Trade Organization, paving the way for the country to become a global manufacturing powerhouse.
2002: Chinese Communist Party opens its doors to private entrepreneurs to become members. Hu Jintao succeeds Jiang Zemin as Party chief in Communist China’s first peaceful transfer of power.
2003: Hu replaces Jiang as state president in March. China’s first manned space flight blasts off from Gobi desert in October.
2005: Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted as Party chief in 1989 for opposing the Tiananmen crackdown, dies after 15 years under house arrest. His opposition to the Party’s decision to send in the army had made him a symbol for activists and reformers.
2008: Beijing hosts Summer Olympic Games in August, illustrating China’s arrival on world stage. But the year is marred by devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in May and riots across Tibetan parts of the country in March.
2008: China unveils a 4 trillion yuan ($562.77 billion)stimulus package to combat the global financial crisis, saddling the economy with a pile of debt and leading to a comeback of state firms at the expense of private firms.
2010: Former Tiananmen student leader and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo is the first Chinese person awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, having been jailed for subversion the year before. He would die while still detained but on medical parole in 2017.
China overtakes Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.
2012: Vice President Xi Jinping becomes Communist Party chief. He assumes the less powerful office of state president the following year, and begins a sweeping crackdown on corruption and civil society, including human rights lawyers.
2018: China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament votes to amend the state constitution to remove term limits for the president, meaning Xi can stay in power for life if he so wishes.
2019: China’s trade war with United States that began in 2018 escalates, hurting the world’s second-largest economy that is already growing at the slowest pace since 1990.
2020: The new coronavirus spreads in China and is soon all over the globe. Tensions increase with the United States over Hong Kong, press freedom, and Beijing’s handling of the epidemic. Beijing moves to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong.
Sources: Reuters, Chinese state media. ($1=7.1077 Chinese yuan renminbi)