The United States has urged China to account for the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago, but Beijing accused Washington of blaming its government “for no reason”.
The anniversary of the 1989 incident comes amid simmering tensions between the two countries on issues ranging from alleged hacking by the Chinese military into private US firms to Washington’s disquiet with what it calls Beijing’s aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea.
“Twenty-five years ago, the United States deplored the use of violence to silence the voices of the peaceful demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square,” a White House statement said.
“Twenty-five years later, the United States continues to honour the memories of those who gave their lives in and around Tiananmen Square and throughout China, and we call on Chinese authorities to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989.”
Beijing rejected Washington’s “total disregard of fact”, accusing it of interfering in Chinese domestic politics.
“It blames the Chinese government for no reason, gravely interferes in China’s internal affairs and violates the basic norms guiding international relation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Hong said China was “strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed” to the White House statement and Obama’s mention in a speech of how “tanks were crushing peaceful democracy protests in Tiananmen Square” on that fateful day.
“We have lodged solemn representations to the US side,” Hong added.
Although welcoming China’s economic progress and seeking to maintain good relations, the White House said America will not be shy about airing its differences with China.
The United States will “urge the Chinese government to guarantee the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all Chinese citizens,” it added.