The Tiananmen movement in the spring of 1989 fascinated Western public opinion; in the same way, the brutal repression of the Chinese students and citizens on 4 June putting a tragic end to the movement that had roused so many hopes, provoked a cry of outrage. Yet, sympathy and compassion are not always conducive to a real understanding of events. While the French were celebrating the bicentennial of their revolution, many observers yielded to the temptation to analyse the events in Tiananmen by using the standard of Western democratic traditions and the ideology of human rights. But China has its own idiosyncrasies, its own political culture, its own geographic characteristics and its own historical and demographic peculiarities. This is not to say that China cannot aspire to the freedom and democracy that Western societies enjoy, But historians must put emotions aside and be as objective as possible in their analyses. The opportunity for more detached thought offered by the relative indifference towards China of public opinion today, captivated by the downfall of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the changes in the Soviet Union, must not be lost. Otherwise, the events in Tiananmen Square risk being seen merely as a reference point for Western debate on Socialism and post-Socialism, with the consequence that Western-liberal perceptions remain as distant from Chinese reality as European and American perceptions of the Cultural Revolution were during the 1960s and 1970s.