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National flags of China and Maldives fly on Tiananmen Square. Photo: VCG / VCG via Getty Images)

A newly declassified cable from the British Ambassador to China at the time, Sir Alan Donald, describes the civilian deaths at the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre as at a "minimum estimate" of 10,000, The Independent reports. The document was reportedly written on June 5, just about 24 hours after the massacre.

Why it matters: That's much higher than previous estimates and disclosures; the Chinese government claims between 200 and 300 were killed and the Chinese Red Cross claims about 2,700 were killed. The document also provides more gruesome details than previously disclosed. In 2014, NTDTV reported that a Chinese informer reported 10,454 fatalities. The Chinese government has said the response to the protests at Tiananmen Square was a legitimate defense against a riot or rebellion.

The details described in the secret document:

  • Wounded female students were bayoneted while begging for their lives.
  • Students were "mown down" at "65kph," about 40 mph, run over "time and time again to make, quote 'pie' unquote, and remains collected by bulldozer."
  • "Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains," the cable reads. "27 Army ordered to spare no one."
  • The cable indicates the massacre didn't end after the first wave of killings.

Sir Alan Donald's source: A "good friend" in China's State Council, who had "previously proved reliable and was careful to separate fact from speculation and rumour."

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

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