In a shooting incident on May 30, 1925, Sikh police under British command opened fire on Chinese protestors in the International Settlement of Shanghai, killing nine demonstrators and wounding many others. News of the incident spread across China, triggering an outburst of nationalism and prompting protests all over, but especially in Shanghai and Canton (Guangzhou) – two cities with concentrated British interests.
During the second half of the 20th century, Chinese society experienced profound and tumultuous changes. Communist rule was declared in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s resulted in much social and economic upheaval. Students were particularly hard hit by the changes made during the Cultural Revolution as university funding decreased and education quality deteriorated. Student resentment towards the Communist government was further exacerbated by the practices of nepotism and profiteering among party officials.