GIDEON RACHMAN: As 1989 events go, Beijing is likely to have been more significant than Berlin
Chinese autocracy no longer looks like an anomaly: the global spread of democracy, which seemed irresistible in the 1990s, has gone into reverse
In the US and Europe, the year 1989 is synonymous with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But there were two 1989s. Five months before the wall came down, the Chinese military entered Tiananmen Square and crushed the pro-democracy movement. The 30th anniversary of that bloody event falls this week.
Watching from the West at the time, the dramatic events in Berlin seemed more globally significant than what had happened in Beijing five months earlier. China was just one country, albeit a large one; and it was still poor and underdeveloped. It was the Soviet Union that had been the second superpower throughout the cold war, and the Soviet empire had just collapsed. The cold war was over. The west had won. Democracy had won. In the great sweep of history, Berlin would surely matter more than Beijing.