China blasts Obama remarks on Tiananmen crackdown

Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.   | Photo Credit: Cyrus Wong

Terms them “grave interference in internal affairs”

China has hit out at United States President Barack Obama and the White House for “gravely interfering in China’s internal affairs” over statements issued on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Beijing late on Wednesday lodged “solemn representations” over the statements, officials said.

Speaking in the Polish capital Warsaw, Mr. Obama unexpectedly — and for the first time in a major address — referred to the June 4, 1989 crackdown. “On the same day 25 years ago that Poles were voting here,” he said, “tanks were crushing peaceful democracy protests in Tiananmen Square on the other side of the world. The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation —including our own.”

In a separate statement, the White House said it would “always speak out in support of the basic freedoms the protesters at Tiananmen Square sought.”

“The American people and government applaud China’s extraordinary social and economic progress over the past three decades and value good relations with the Chinese people and government,” the statement added. “Even as we continue our co-operation on areas of common interest, the United States will continue to be clear about our differences, and urge the Chinese government to guarantee the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all Chinese citizens.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei blasted the statement as “a total disregard of fact” and said China had lodged “solemn representations.”

“The U.S. statement on that incident… blames the Chinese government for no reasons, gravely interferes in China’s internal affairs and violates the basic norms guiding international relations,” he said, adding that China was “strongly dissatisfied.”

The spat over Tiananmen follows increasing strains between Beijing and Washington over cyber-security issues and the South China Sea. China was angered by the U.S. indicting serving PLA personnel over alleged hacking, responding by threatening to clamp down on U.S. technology firms operating in China. More recently, comments by Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel at a regional security forum in Singapore blaming China for “destabilising” the region through territorial spats brought sharp responses from PLA officials.

Mr. Hong said China urged the U.S. “to abandon political bias” and “stop using the so-called human rights issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

He repeated China’s official position that the government reached a “conclusion” over the “political turmoil” and that its stand had been vindicated by the past two decades of rapid growth.

At the same time, Beijing has remained wary of allowing any debate in China over the crackdown, detaining activists in recent weeks and deploying massive security in the capital ahead of the anniversary.

There were consequently no commemorations in the mainland, although thousands turned out in Hong Kong and in Taiwan to mark the anniversary.

In Taipei, around a 1,000 people attended an event to remember the crackdown. Former student leader Wu’er Kaixi, in exile in Taiwan, and prominent Chinese dissidents spoke at the event, pledging to continue their efforts to push for political reforms in the mainland and calling for support from Taiwan’s people.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:06:47 AM |

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