June 4, 1989
On June 1, Site Headquarters requested an audience with the government, but no response was given. The next day, four students, also known as the Four Noble Men - Liu Xiaobo, Hou Dejian, Zhou Duo and Gao Xin - institued another hunger strike. They issued the June 2 Hunger Strike Declaration. On June 3, the situation took a turn for the worse. The government was becoming impatient. Li Peng was advocating the end of the demonstrations even if it meant using violence. The government sent the army back to Beijing again to clear out the Square, but like the other attempts before, it failed.
At 5:00 P.M., people gathered at Xinhuamen, the front entrance of the CCP headquarters. They chastised the troops for moving in. Tearfully, they shouted to the soldiers, asking them not to use violence. The soldiers listened, but were not allowed to respond. Those who wept were removed by an officer.
At 2:00 in the afternoon, the PLA fired tear gas into the crowd. A cable from the US Embassy in Beijing to the Head of State in Washington described bystanders chastising the PLA for moving against the people. That same night, Deng Xiaoping gave the army license to use any means necessary to clear the Square.
At 10:00 the soldiers opened fire. The people were incredulous. Even then, many people did not believe that the PLA would injure Chinese citizens. They refused to back down, thinking that soldiers were only firing rubber bullets. It was not until the protesters saw their comrades fall did they realize the gravity of the situation.
The soldiers fired indiscriminantly. Casualties did not come from the students alone. Protesters, bystanders, residents, and even children were rushed to the hospital. Some citizens tried to help get people to the hospital, taking them on bikes or carrying them on make shift stretchers or on their backs. Even they were not spared.
The students responded angrily with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Enraged protesters dragged soldiers from their trucks and beat them to death. Their corpses were found the following morning. Some had been stripped, burnt, even disemboweled and hung.
Early in the morning of June 4, the troops surrounded Tian An Men Square. Feng Congde called for a vote at Site Headquarters. The students agreed to leave. While the soldiers were waiting for orders from the government, the Four Noble Men began to negotiate with them, hoping that they would let the students leave. Around five in the morning, the people began to leave the Square. Intermittant volleys and tracer bullets continued until dawn that morning. The Secretary of State's summary for that morning included a description of the night's military movement.
Later that day, a cable from Washington to the US Embassy in Beijing estimated the casualties to be between 500 and 2600.