Twenty Years since Tiananmen Square

China is a very different place than it was twenty years ago. It was on this day in 1989 that one anonymous, brave soul halted those tanks in their tracks during the Tiananmen Square protests.

Slow but steady economic liberalization has lifted as many as half a billion people out of poverty in China since Mao’s death. Most of that progress has happened since the Tiananmen massacre. And the process has accelerated in recent years.

Economist Alex Tabarrok, speaking at a TED conference, described China’s new economic freedom as “the world’s greatest antipoverty program of the past three decades.”

But not everything has changed since Tiananmen. China still does not have a free press. There is no freedom of speech or religion. In many ways, the Chinese government is as repressive as ever. If China is to be a great nation again, it must be free. If the Chinese people follow the peaceful example of the Tiananmen Tank Man, it will happen.