Tian Mingjian incident

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Tian Mingjian incident
Chang'an Avenue in Beijing, c 1983 02.jpg
Chang'an Avenue in 1984, near Jian'guo Gate
Native name田明建事件
Location Beijing, China
Coordinates 39°54′26″N116°25′46″E / 39.9071°N 116.4295°E / 39.9071; 116.4295
Date20 September 1994
7:20 a.m. (UTC+8)
Attack type
Mass murder, mass shooting
Weapons Type 81 assault rifle
Deaths24 - 29 (17 civilians, multiple soldiers and police officers, and the perpetrator)
PerpetratorTian Mingjian
MotivePossibly a reaction to the forced abortion of the perpetrator's second child, leading to the death of his wife

The Tian Mingjian incident (also known as the Jian'guo Gate incident) was an act of mass murder that occurred in Beijing, China on 20 September 1994. People's Liberation Army officer First Lieutenant Tian Mingjian first killed his officer and several other soldiers at his military base in Tongxian County and afterwards drove towards Jianguomen, where he continued his shooting spree and indiscriminately fired at people in the streets. Seventeen civilians, including an Iranian diplomat and his son, along with up to 11 soldiers and policemen were killed before Tian was finally shot dead by a police sniper.



Tian Mingjian (Chinese :田明建), born 1964, was a first lieutenant stationed at an army base in Tongxian County, a suburb of Beijing. He had been in the military for over ten years, originally as a sharpshooter, and was highly skilled in the military technology field. He was once promoted to regimental staff officer for military affairs. At the time of the shooting, he served in this position in the 12th Regiment of the 3rd Guard Division of PLA Beijing Garrison  [ zh ]. [1]

It was reported that Tian had a quarrel with his superiors because they had forced his wife to have an abortion when she was pregnant with their second child, in accordance with China's one-child policy. Tian already had a daughter; however, as he came from a rural area in Henan province, where strong traditional values emphasize having a male child, Tian secretly planned on having a son until someone in the army revealed his plan and the birth control officer forced his wife to have an abortion. By then, his wife was already seven months pregnant and died during the operation along with the unborn fetus (later discovered to be a boy). [2] [3] He had also been disciplined for beating another soldier. [4]


Army base

On 20 September, Tian armed himself with a Type 81 assault rifle and killed the regimental political commissar on the drill ground. He also killed three other military officials who were trying to stop him and injured at least ten more before fleeing the military base. While his fellow soldiers were ordered to change into civilian clothing under orders to not disturb the public when searching for the deserter, Tian hijacked a jeep and headed towards Beijing. Other reports stated he boarded a bus. [4] [5]


At 7:20 a.m., when approaching a red light in Jianguomen, the driver crashed his vehicle into a tree and tried to escape. Tian killed him, jumped out of the car and started to shoot people at random while making his way towards the embassy district. He thus killed 17 civilians, including Iranian diplomat Yousef Mohammadi Pishknari and his 9-year-old son, [6] while another of Pishknari's sons and his daughter were wounded.

By then, thousands of police were rushing to the scene and tried to apprehend the gunman. They were unable to do so, as Tian was an experienced and excellent marksman. Police surrounded Tian at Yabao Road and engaged in a gun battle with him, in which an undisclosed number of officers were killed, and a number of passers-by hit by bullets. A bus was also caught in the line of fire when the driver in panic stopped his vehicle, resulting in more casualties. Eventually heavy police fire forced Tian to flee into a dead end, where he was killed by a sniper.

The exact number of casualties remains unknown, though in the immediate aftermath 14 people were reported dead, and 72 others wounded, many of them so severely that doctors expected the death toll to rise to 40 or 50. [7] The newspaper Lien Ho Pao reported on 7 December the same year that 15 people were killed, among them six servicemen, and 60 others were wounded. [1]


When Canadian television began to report live about the shooting at the embassy district, satellite transmission was immediately turned off by the Chinese government and further reporting, including on-site interviews, were prohibited.

Shortly after the shooting, the Beijing Garrison Command (BGC) was ordered by the Central Military Commission to conduct a thorough review of the incident. The investigation was organized by the People's Liberation Army's General Staff Headquarters and the General Political Department and headed by Zhang Zhen, then vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. [5]

Due to the investigation, the commander of the Beijing Military Region, Lieutenant General Li Laizhu, and its political commissar, Lieutenant General Gu Shanqing, were given serious warnings as a disciplinary sanction and serious demerits within the party. It also resulted in the dismissal and demeriting of BGC commander Major General Liu Fengjun and BGC political commissar Major General Yang Huichuan, who were then replaced by He Daoquan and Zhang Baokang. [1] Additionally, the commander and political commissar of the Third Guards Division, as well as the commander of the 12th Regiment and all battalion commanders and instructors under his command, were dismissed while several military officials of the Political Department of the Beijing Military Region, and the Beijing Garrison Headquarters and Political Department were punished. In total, about 60 military officials were punished, demerited, or dismissed as a consequence of the shooting. [5]

Furthermore, the Third Guards Division of the Beijing Garrison was transferred from Beijing to a remote border post, and a general order was issued to the entire army by the Central Military Commission Headquarters to strictly carry out weaponry management system and to strengthen ideological work. [5] Others were awarded for their handling of the shooting, among them an official who directed Tian's interception and the sharpshooter who killed the gunman. [5]

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  1. 1 2 3 Case of soldier shooting people in Beijing results in stepping down of commander and political commissar of Beijing Garrison Garrison Command, Lien Ho Pao (7 December 1994), in Summary of World Broadcasts: Asia, Pacific, Part 3; British Broadcasting Corporation, (6 December 1994). Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  2. Moody, Peter R. (1994). China Documents Annual. Academic International Press. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  3. "Ex-Chinese military officers protest over "work, life issues" - HK rights group". BBC Monitoring . 9 July 2008. Archived from the original on 25 September 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  4. 1 2 Fu, Charlene L. (21 September 1994). "Police Identify Gunman As Member Of Chinese Army". The Seattle Times . Associated Press . Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Beijing Garrison Commander, Political Commissar Dismissed in the Wake of Jianguomen Shooting Incident, Lien Ho Pao (7 February 1995), in Daily Report: People's Republic of China, Iss. 21-30; National Technical Information Service, 1995. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  6. "Details surface on Chinese officer's shooting spree". Philadelphia Inquirer . 24 September 1994. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  7. "14 dead in Beijing shooting". New Straits Times . 22 September 1994.

Further reading