In the spring of 1989, Chinese students and workers occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square and began the largest nonviolent political protest in China's history. At the height of the movement, over one million people marched in the streets of Beijing. The movement ended with the government's crackdown and the Beijing massacre of June 4.

Witnessed on television by millions around the world, the Tiananmen protests were one of the most watched, yet least understood, stories of our time. This website explores the origins and history of the protests, the intense international media coverage, and underlying themes such as democracy, human rights, reform and revolution, and nationalism. The site contains articles, essays, and book excerpts, a tour of Tiananmen Square, and a Media Library with posters, photographs, music, and videos.

This site also includes extensive information about the feature-length documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace, "a deep, powerful and rivetingly complex study of Tiananmen." (Newsweek, October 9, 1995)

View excerpts from The Gate of Heavenly Peace


Liu Xiaobo, one of China's most prominent intellectuals and a key participant in the events of 1989, passed away on July 13, 2017, while still in state custody. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, said of his passing: The human rights movement in China and across the world has lost a principled champion who devoted his life to defending and promoting human rights, peacefully and consistently, and who was jailed for standing up for his beliefs.

Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." With Liu imprisoned in China, his absence at the December 10, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony was symbolized by an empty chair. In his stead, the actress Liv Ullmann read Liu's own words from his essay, "I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement," including the lines:

Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.

View excerpts from The Gate of Heavenly Peace featuring Liu Xiaobo.

Nearly 20 years after the events of June 4, 1989, one of the student movement's most prominent characters attempted to censor this website. Click here to read about the lawsuit launched in May 2007 by Chai Ling and her company against the Long Bow Group [Chinese version (中文版)]. WGBH/FRONTLINE stated that the lawsuit "poses first amendment issues and is a potential threat to all newsgathering, reportorial and academic sites." All claims were dismissed by the Massachusetts Courts, and in October 2013, the Superior Court granted Long Bow's motion for fees, stating that Jenzabar "subjected Long Bow to protracted and costly litigation not to protect the good will of its trademark from misappropriation, but to suppress criticism of Jenzabar's principals and its corporate practices."