Why the Military Obeys the Party's Orders to Repress Popular Uprisings: The Chinese Military Crackdown of 1989




Chien-Wen Kou

Key Words

Tiananmen Incident of 1989 ; People's Liberation Army(PLA) ; Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ; Deng Xiaoping ; civil-military relations


Issues & Studies

Volume or Term/Year and Month of Publication

36卷6期(2000 / 11 / 01)

Page #

27 - 51

Content Language


English Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explain the political role of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during the June 1989 Tiananmen Incident. In light of the fact that a number of retired and active service PLA officers opposed the use of force before June 4 and some even refused to enforce martial law during the crackdown operation, why did no PLA unit defect from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? The author argues that two factors jointly resulted in the obedience of the PLA to the CCP’s orders to repress student protesters in June 1989. First, although a number of retired and active service PLA officers publicly opposed the use of force against students, these military men were both unwilling to see the collapse of communist rule and hesitant to be involved in a direct conflict with Deng Xiaoping. These attitudes diluted PLA dissatisfaction with the party's repression orders. Second, alerted that some officers would probably be unreliable V ordered to repress protesters, Deng took action to prevent PLA members from forming any unofficial coordination network which might be used to organize a coup. The measures taken by Deng controlled and manipulated the exchange of information between servicemen during the incident and thus served as additional security mechanisms to prevent the defection of any PLA unit. While the first factor was noticed by outside watchers, the second factor lacked systematic analyses.

Topic Category 社會科學 > 政治學