(With thanks to Alternatehistory.com)
Right now we could be dealing with a China with a similar mixed model to Vietnam, or a re-unified country like Germany.
We are not. And this hinges on that fateful political year of 1989.
In 1989, why did the Chinese protests in Tianenmen Square fail when all those cruel Soviet states imploded?
How come there was no moment similar to Ronald Reagan declaiming in 1987: “Mr President, tear down this wall”?
When they started in the Square, the demonstrations made the conservative faction led by Li Peng very nervous. There was fear that if they were allowed to continue, it would result in the eventual end of CCP rule.
Zhao Ziyang and the moderates within the leadership took a much more conciliatory approach. They hoped to persuade the demonstrators to go home by meeting with them and compromising with their demands.
There was still a chance to save something out of this. And there was still a sense that one moderate power-faction within the Chinese government could aggregate sufficient power to beat the hardliners.
But Zhao had to leave the country on a scheduled trip to North Korea, and this was the critical moment the Conservative faction used to move against the protesters.
Upon his departure, Li Peng called a meeting of the PSC at Deng’s home. At the meeting, he painted the protestors as being anti-socialist, anti-party, and anti-Deng.
Without Zhao to oppose him, it was easy for him to convince the rest of the leadership that the protesters were counter-revolutionaries funded and organized with just a few escaping the country.
Soviet Europe was liberated, but there was to be no liberation of China.