China has lashed back at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after his statement on the 30th anniversary of the mass killings of peaceful protestors in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.
China has tried to erase the event from its history. The exact death toll is unknown but expected to be in the thousands, as Chinese protestors were mowed down by Chinese army tanks and shot by machine guns after they gathered in the square to call for a more democratic nation and human rights. The Chinese Communist Party has claimed less than 300 people were killed. Those who weren’t killed ended up in prison after an estimated 10,000 were arrested.
The State Department released a statement Monday calling on China to make “a full, public accounting of those killed or missing to give comfort to the many victims of this dark chapter of history.”
Pompeo also said, “On June 4, we honor the heroic protest movement of the Chinese people that ended on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese Communist Party leadership sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to violently repress peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy, human rights, and an end to rampant corruption. The hundreds of thousands of protesters who gathered in Beijing and in other cities around China suffered grievously in pursuit of a better future for their country. The number of dead is still unknown. We express our deep sorrow to the families still grieving their lost loved ones, including the courageous Tiananmen Mothers, who have never stopped seeking accountability, despite great personal risk. The events of thirty years ago still stir our conscience, and the conscience of freedom-loving people around the world.”
Representatives from China in the U.S. did not respond well to Pompeo’s statement.
An anonymous spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., characterized Pompeo’s statement as one of “prejudice and arrogance,” and “an affront to the Chinese people and a serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations.”
“The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it,” according to the press release.
The statement continues:
The Chinese government and people reached the verdict on the political incident of the late 1980s long ago. Over the past four decades of reform and opening-up, China has enjoyed rapid economic and social development, continuous progress in democracy and the rule of law, flourishing culture and significantly improved standards of living. China’s human rights are in the best period ever. Socialism with Chinese characteristics, a choice of history and the people, has been proved a right path in line with China’s national conditions and supported by the whole population. China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development and to the development of human rights in China and the whole world, and has made significant contribution to the international human rights governance. This is a fact that is recognized by all unbiased people.
The Chinese people have the best say on China. Their pursuit of a better life cannot be stopped by any force. Whoever attempt to patronize and bully the Chinese people in any name, or preach a “clash of civilizations” to resist the trend of times will never succeed. They will only end up in the ash heap of history.
This is the rest of Pompeo’s statement:
Over the decades that followed, the United States hoped that China’s integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society. Those hopes have been dashed. China’s one-party state tolerates no dissent and abuses human rights whenever it serves its interests. Today, Chinese citizens have been subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang, where the Communist Party leadership is methodically attempting to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups. Even as the party builds a powerful surveillance state, ordinary Chinese citizens continue to seek to exercise their human rights, organize independent unions, pursue justice through the legal system, and simply express their views, for which many are punished, jailed, and even tortured.
We salute the heroes of the Chinese people who bravely stood up thirty years ago in Tiananmen Square to demand their rights. Their exemplary courage has served as an inspiration to future generations calling for freedom and democracy around the world, beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in Eastern Europe in the months that followed.
We urge the Chinese government to make a full, public accounting of those killed or missing to give comfort to the many victims of this dark chapter of history. Such a step would begin to demonstrate the Communist Party’s willingness to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. We call on China to release all those held for seeking to exercise these rights and freedoms, halt the use of arbitrary detention, and reverse counterproductive policies that conflate terrorism with religious and political expression. China’s own constitution stipulates that all power belongs to the people. History has shown that nations are stronger when governments are responsive to their citizens, respect the rule of law, and uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms.