Louisa Lim

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Editor's Note: There are descriptions of rape and other forms of sexual abuse in this story.

All that remains is a pair of yellow gates, perched on the crest of a hill dotted with gum trees and cypresses, overlooking the blue sea. The natural beauty of the site stands in stark contrast to the central role it played at the heart of a sex abuse scandal dating back decades.

As China prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of its brutal repression of protests around Tiananmen Square, its leaders have presided over an unprecedented pre-anniversary crackdown. Rights groups say at least 50 people have been detained, put under house arrest or disappeared.

Hour after hour passed as Chen Guang stood, gun trembling in his hands, behind the doors of Beijing's Great Hall of the people, waiting for the order to clear Tiananmen Square of its student protesters.

It was 1989, and Chen was a 17-year-old soldier from a small town whose life was changed by his role in the bloody crackdown. His account offers a sharply different perspective of the events of June 3 and 4, 1989, when martial law troops fought their way into the center of Beijing, killing hundreds of people, mainly on approach roads into the square.

They peered at the photo blankly, leaning to take in the details.

"Is it from South Korea?" asked a student studying for a doctorate in marketing, with no flicker of recognition.

"Is it Kosovo?" a young astronomy major guessed.

The elderly woman carefully handed over the tissue-thin white paper slip. The flimsy invoice was her son's death notice. The words hurriedly scrawled on it in blue ink — "shot outside and died" — were proof to her of the crimes of the state.

Zhang Xianling's son, Wang Nan, was just 19 years old when he was killed by a single bullet to the head. It was fired by martial law troops sent to clear protesters from Tiananmen Square in the early hours of June 4, 1989.

Twenty-five years ago, on April 15, 1989, Chinese students were mourning the death of a reformist leader. But what began as mourning evolved into mass protests demanding democracy. Demonstrators remained in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, day after day, until their protests were brutally suppressed by the Chinese army — on June 4. Hundreds died; to this day, no one knows how many.

File under "one of the oddest jobs ever": professional mourner. China's funeral rituals date back 2,000 years to the Han dynasty, but were banned during the Cultural Revolution as superstition. Now these funeral rituals have become an income source to a select few who stage funeral extravaganzas, marrying ancient Chinese traditions with modern entertainment.

Ding Zilin has spent the past 24 years on one mission: seeking justice for the death of her son, 17-year-old Jiang Jielian, who was shot in the back by Chinese soldiers on the night of June 3, 1989.

This year, her mood is one of black despair.

"It's possible that before I leave this world, I won't see justice," the frail 76-year-old told me. We're sitting in the living room of her Beijing home, near a shrine to her son that includes a wooden cabinet holding his ashes.

Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.

It was 5 p.m. on an ordinary Tuesday, and Li Ping was finishing up the company accounts before going to have a facial. She was working for her brother, Li Qiang, who owned one of the biggest private transport companies in Chongqing, a major city in southwestern China.

Suddenly, five plainclothes policemen barged into the room. They asked her name, then put a black hood over her head and drove her to a secret interrogation site. Her ordeal had begun.

The man ArtReview magazine named the most powerful artist in the world is trying his hand at rock stardom. In 2011, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in detention. He was later let go and charged with tax evasion.

In China, having too much money is a relatively new problem. But the rapidly growing country is second only to the U.S. in its number of billionaires, according to Forbes magazine. And now an enterprising company has set up a course for kids born into wealthy families, who are learning how to deal with the excesses of extraordinary wealth.

Five years after the massive Wenchuan quake in China's Sichuan province left about 90,000 dead and missing, allegations are surfacing that corruption and official wrongdoing have plagued the five-year-long quake reconstruction effort.

The official press is full of praise for how "all Chinese have a reason to be proud of what the concerted efforts of the entire nation achieved in creating a new life for the survivors."

How do you prevent protests in China? Move the weekend.

That's the Orwellian step taken by local authorities in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. May 4 is a sensitive date commemorating an influential student movement in 1919. It's especially potent in Chengdu, where it marks the fifth anniversary of a protest against the construction of a $6 billion crude oil refinery and petrochemical facility in Pengzhou, 25 miles away.

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