Students smashed empty bottles today in an act of defiance aimed at senior leader Deng Xiaoping on this second anniversary of China's bloody suppression of the democracy movement. Police and armed paramilitary troops cordoned off Tiananmen Square on Monday night and patrolled college campuses. The square was reopened about dawn today. The anniversary of the June 3-4 crackdown passed quietly, almost without incident.
At Beijing University, the most politically active campus, students threw dozens of bottles from the windows of a graduate-student dormitory. The campus was in the forefront of the spring 1989 demonstrations.
Breaking bottles is a popular form of protest because the words for "little bottle" sound like "Xiaoping." Student-union leaders have tried to collect empty bottles from students, but students said they have been hiding the bottles for later use.
Scattered incidents have taken place in the last week. Authorities have taken measures to avoid disturbances. At Beijing University, plainclothesmen questioned students who talked to foreigners. Students were warned that buildings would be searched, students said.
The government also has increased censorship of the domestic and foreign media _ there has been a ban on sending television tape out of China by satellite.
Students interviewed Monday night said they feared too much open protest because of the heavy security. Authorities have warned that even those who watch protest activity will be considered participants. Nevertheless, several students seemed to think it was important to mark the occasion.
"Two years pass very quickly, and people can easily forget," said a student who was in Tiananmen Square two years ago. "But we must remember June 4."
Two years ago, China's leaders ordered army troops into Tiananmen Square to drive out demonstrators calling for democracy, ending a student-led movement that became the biggest anti-government protest since the 1949 Communist revolution.