Twenty years ago this week began the protests that culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre. While initially student and intellectual in nature, they eventually encompassed vast sections of Chinese society. This importantly included segments of the peasantry and the emerging urban working class, the later best represented by the formation of the Workers Autonomous Federation - active in many cities at that time.
What happened in crushing these protests, was nothing less than a government turning against its own people. There was the wholesale arrest of tens of thousands, and murder of hundreds, or possibly thousands, of civilians. Multiple divisions of the Army were called in to retake the city of Beijing.
The crackdown proved to Western capital that the government in China was willing to do anything to maintain control, and that China was a safe place to invest.
20 years later, quite a bit has changed in China. It is much wealthier, especially in sections of the traditional merchant class. But it is still an autocratic government resting on a foundation of repression. This autocracy is justified by Western Beijing apologists as understandable, based upon their crude stereotypes of the Chinese people. These stereotypes include notions that the Chinese are uniform, lack individuality, and value an imposed social order over freedom. The apologists say, either loudly or quietly - some people don't really want democracy, and authoritarianism is OK for them.
But time and time again, humans have shown that not to be the case. Autocratic governments are unable to withstand crisis without mass repression, or imploding, because people ultimately don't want to live that way.