‘Chinese Had To Smuggle Gorbachev Into The Great Hall Of The People Building Through The Back Door’: Shivshankar Menon


Former foreign secretary and National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon was a diplomat posted with the Indian embassy in Beijing, living barely a kilometre-and-half away from Tiananmen Square when protesters laid siege to it 30 years ago in their quest for freedom under an oppressive Chinese regime. In this interview with SNI Editor-in-Chief Nitin Gokhale, the former diplomat travels down memory lane to share what he witnessed in 1989. Menon, who would often walk down to Tiananmen Square carrying his seven-year-old on his shoulders, says there was never one manifesto or credo defining the protesters’ demands. He also recalls that initially, a carnival-like atmosphere prevailed with the regime seeming uncertain about how to deal with the protesters and even started negotiating with them. However, as the movement snowballed into something bigger and spread across China, troops began coming into Beijing. Initially, they just waited and watched as the protesters shouted, ‘Chinese do not kill Chinese’. But then eventually the military crackdown happened.