I believe the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, in retrospect, were futile. The Chinese government went on to squelch the revolt of the students with its military force and later imprisoned many of the people involved. It illustrated to the world, what China was capable of controlling and how they did indeed hold power of the citizens of that part of the world.
I personally think that The right to protest is one of the things that makes America great. That right should be given to everyone in the world. The Chinese government violated the right of Chinese students to protest by shutting down the square. By doing this they took away the voice of those students and their power to enact change in their country.
No, the Tianamen Square protests of 1989, in retrospect futile, because they became the icon of China's secrecy that continues today. The protests of Tianamen Square became a symbol and a teaching point for those around the world to teach the next generation about China's relationship with its own people.
The monumental protests of Tiananmen square may not have achieved the results they intended, but their voice was heard. The oppression from the tyrannical government loosened. The people were given a voice in the government afterward, and that voice is relevant. The people may not have a voting ballot or other such trademark democratic tools, but they have made it known that there is a such thing as too much. The line was drawn that day in Tiananmen. The Government has been careful not to breach it again.
The Chinese government blinked during the Tiananmen Square protests and the rest of the world noticed. It wasn't until 1989 that the democracies of Earth realized just how bad the Chinese regime can be. Unfortunately, China is too much of an economic powerhouse to try to punish them for the crackdown of the protests.