Skip to navigationSkip to content
Getty Images / Tim Graham
Students pose in Tiananmen Square about six months after the crackdown on protesters in the plaza in 1989.

Eerily normal Instagram photos from Tiananmen Square on the anniversary of the massacre


One of the most striking features of the China’s protests in 1989 is how quickly life returned to normal after the crackdown on demonstrators in Beijing, at least on the surface. Chinese leaders were determined to restore social stability and keep the nation on its path of breakneck economic development, trading with the same Western countries that had condemned the crackdown. Chinese students who had demonstrated against the government while abroad returned to the mainland only years later to make a fortune in industries like real estate.

Today, on the 24th anniversary, life continued. Tourists, Chinese residents, and local security roamed the plaza that sits at the center of Beijing near an old imperial palace, the Forbidden City, and the mausoleum where Mao Zedong is buried. And while Chinese acknowledged the anniversary online, sometimes evading state internet censors, photos posted to Facebook’s mobile photo-sharing service Instagram, which isn’t blocked in China, were eminently normal.

Here is a selection of Instagram photos posted by tourists and Chinese nationals in Tiananmen Square on June 4.

One of the only people to comment on the connection between the square and today’s date, Instagram user joinin_kwok, wrote, “What would it be like if we were to go back 24 years to this day? 1989.06.04.”

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.