May 28, 2009 / 1:01 AM / 10 years ago

TIMELINE: China milestones since 1989

(Reuters) - China has undergone dramatic changes since the army crushed student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. It has broken out of diplomatic isolation, hosted the Olympics and put a man in space.

Here are some landmark dates following the demonstrations:

* 1990: Shanghai Stock Exchange, Communist China’s first ever stock market, opens.

* 1992: Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping tours southern China to press for faster economic reforms and quell influence of Party conservatives opposed to market liberalization.

* 1995-96: China menaces Taiwan with war games ahead of island’s first direct presidential elections, plunging bilateral ties to lowest ebb since detente began in late 1980s.

* 1996: China allows yuan to be convertible on current account, enabling free flow of money for imports and exports.

* 1997: Deng dies in February. British colony of Hong Kong reverts to Chinese rule in July. President Jiang Zemin visits the United States later that year, first trip by a Chinese head of state in more than a decade and breaking China out of diplomatic isolation in post-Tiananmen period.

* 1998: U.S. President Bill Clinton visits China. Zhu Rongji takes over as premier, reforming lumbering state-owned enterprises and laying off millions, cracking down on smuggling and revamping health care system.

* 1999: In May, NATO missiles hit Chinese embassy in Belgrade during war against Serbia, prompting angry Chinese to protest and stone U.S. embassy in Beijing. Falun Gong spiritual group is banned as a cult after besieging Chinese leadership compound.

* 2001: U.S. spy plane makes emergency landing in southern tropical island of Hainan after colliding with Chinese fighter jet. China joins World Trade Organization in November.

* 2002: Chinese Communist Party opens its doors to private entrepreneurs to become members. Hu Jintao succeeds Jiang Zemin as Party chief in Communist China’s first peaceful transfer of power.

* 2003: Hu replaces Jiang as state president in March. SARS breaks out around the country in spring. China’s first manned space flight blasts off from Gobi desert in October.

* 2004: Jiang hands over top job in military to Hu.

* 2005: Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted as Party chief in 1989 for opposing Tiananmen crackdown, dies after 15 years under house arrest. China frees yuan from dollar peg, letting it float within tightly managed band.

* 2006: Two ambitious but controversial projects, Three Gorges Dam and a railway to Tibet, are completed. China’s foreign currency reserves, already world’s biggest, top $1 trillion.

* 2007: Communist Party congress names two next generation leaders. China sweeps past Germany to become world’s third-largest economy.

* 2008: Beijing hosts Summer Olympic Games in August, illustrating China’s arrival on world stage. But the year is marred by devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in May and riots across Tibetan parts of the country in March.

Source: Reuters

Compiled by Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Nick Macfie and Dean Yates

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