Throughout the world, it is generally recognized that the Democratic movement in Beijing started as a public memorial of the former Chairman Hu YaoBang, who past away on April 15th, 1989 after being ousted by Deng XiaoPing. Slowly, people turned this as a chance to demand more freedom of expression, freedom of Press, and called for an investigation of corruption within the government. The scale and intensity of protest increased, particularly after the Editorial on April 26th. (this period is where rumors of students faked hunger strike, looting, and burning soldiers started to spread, so I will not say what happened at this time)

This lead to Gorbachev seeing protesters on TianAnMen Square, which made Deng XiaoPing looked bad. Eventually, after the Progressives in the Party lost the political struggle, the Army came in and the rest is history. What I want to know is not what actually happened, but what could be changed in China's History after the Korean War so that this Protest could turn China into a more democratic country with the protected right to freedom of expression? (I am thinking about something similar to the "Modern Way Program" in Command and Conquer General lore, so whether China remained a one-party rule or multiple parties are fine)

My guess is...Shorter Cultural Revolution caused by the earlier death of Mao would lead to more surviving intellectuals, who will then lead the protest instead of the young and radical students.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome! Here in Worldbuilding, we answer specific queries you have regarding the construction of your own fictional world or setting. The question you asked is really more of a real world historical question and would be better answered in a history forum. If you intend this to be an historical what-if, then you need to clarify points of divergence and any other pertinents that would allow us to distinguish the fictional from the real. Please review the tour and help center so you can get a better idea how this forum works! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 18, 2020 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


Your guess of a shorter Cultural Revolution is most likely change. I would go further, in fact this was my first thought, of No Cultural Revolution.

Essentially the Chinese Communist party leadership ensures Mao Zedong's enforced retirement in the aftermath of the Great Leap Forward. Mao is unable to rebuild his power base in Shanghai. This could be accelerated with the early death of Madam Mao as her political background was Shanghai and she may have been instrumental in facilitating Mao's return to effective power which, in turn, enabled his instigation of the Cultural Revolution.

Why bother with half measures? Get rid of the Cultural Revolution entirely and the probability of the Democratic Movement succeeding increases dramatically.


For those less aware of Chinese history in the 20th century one of the major terrors that inspired the Tianmen Square massacre and the subsequent political crackdown on democratic trends was the fear that the student movement and associated trends would lead to another Cultural Revolution. Many of the Chinese leadership in 1989 suffered terribly during in the Cultural Revolution. Vide Deng Xiaoping. Also, they were older and less resilient, therefore, less likely to survive a repeat performance of a Cultural Revolution.


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