The May Fourth Movement (traditional Chinese: 五四運動; simplified Chinese: 五四运动; pinyin: Wǔsì Yùndòng) was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government’s weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem. These demonstrations sparked national protests and marked the upsurge of Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization and away from cultural activities, and a move towards populist base rather than intellectual elites.
The broader use of the term “May Fourth Movement” often refers to the period during 1915-1921 more often called the New Culture Movement. Backgrounds: Following the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown. This marked the end of thousands of years of powerful imperial rule, and theoretically ushered a new era in which political power rested with the people. However, the reality was that China was a fragmented nation dominated by warlords, who were more concerned with their own political powers and private armies than national interests. The Chinese Beiyang government was occupied with suppressing internal affairs, and did little to counter the influence exerted by imperialist foreign powers.
The Beiyang government made various concessions to foreigners in order to gain monetary and military support against their rivals. Defeats by foreign powers and the presence of spheres of influence inflamed a sense of nationalism among the emerging middle class and cultural leaders. Leaders of the New Culture Movement believed that traditional Chinese values were responsible for the political weakness of the nation. This created a rather peculiar situation, in which Chinese nationalists called for a rejection of traditional values and the selective adoption of Western ideals of science and democracy.
May fourth Movement (Chinese Students Protest) In 1989 there were growing economic hardship caused by high inflation set the ground for a large-scale protest movement by students intellectuals and other parts of a disaffected urban population. University students and other citizens in Beijing camped out at Tiananmen Square to protest against those who slowed reform. Protests also spread to many other cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou.Martial law was declared on May 20 1989, military units were deployed in Beijing.
Demonstrators were suppressed brutally, most observers believe that casualties numbered in the hundreds.The entire world expressed horror at the brutal suppression of the demonstrators, the central government eliminated opposition, held in custody large numbers of protesters and urged for required political re-education not only for students but also for party cadre and government officials.