Deng Xiaoping was a popular leader in China until June 1989. His decision to murder his way out of the challenges posed by the student-led protest movements will eventually stain his historical legacy, but right now the official government line is still that the suppression was warranted. Deng continued to rule over China’s modernization efforts until his death in February 1997.
After Tiananmen, Deng’s first order of business was to appoint people who would support him to the highest levels of the party and government. He dismissed Zhao Ziyang from his position as head of the Chinese Communist party and replaced him with the relatively unknown Jiang Zemin, who had been mayor of Shanghai. Jiang, a polyglot but otherwise a relatively bloodless figure and unoriginal intellect, parroted the line for Deng and emerged as his replacement and the paramount leader of China in the late 1990s and beyond.
Deng then rounded up thousands of students and their supporters who had participated in the Tiananmen demonstrations. Several student leaders managed to escape from China and flee to freedom abroad, but others did not, including Wang Dan, who was sentenced to four years in prison and then resentenced after his release to another eleven years in 1996. Trials of the arrested student leaders and other dissidents were