News World China defends Tiananmen massacre as only way to end ‘turbulence’

China defends Tiananmen massacre as only way to end ‘turbulence’

Armed only with an uncrushable yearning for Liberty, 'Tank Man' became famous for briefly stalling the bloody attack on demonstrators. Photo: Getty
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Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe says the bloody crackdown on protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 30 years ago was the “correct” decision, citing the country’s “stability” since then.

Responding to a question at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday after a hardline speech about China and international security co-operation, he called the protests political “turbulence”.

It is rare for Chinese government officials to acknowledge the events of June 4, 1989 and references to it are heavily censored in China.

“Everybody is concerned about Tiananmen after 30 years,” Wei said.

“Throughout the 30 years, China under the Communist Party has undergone many changes – do you think the government was wrong with the handling of June Fourth? There was a conclusion to that incident. The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence.”

People's Liberation Army soldiers in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
It is 30 years since troops were unleashed on pro-democracy protesters – and Beijing’s rulers still swear it was the right thing to do. Photo: Getty

He added that China’s development since 1989 showed that the government’s actions were justified.

The Tiananmen protests were “political turmoil that the central government needed to quell, which was the correct policy,” he said.

“Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history.”

Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the protests, in which Chinese troops opened fire to end the student-led unrest. Rights groups and witnesses say hundreds or even thousands may have been killed. China has never provided a final death toll.

His comments echoed those of Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, who last week decried the use of the word “suppression” to describe the military’s response to the 1989 protests.

China at the time blamed the protests on counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the party.

The event will not be officially commemorated by the ruling Communist Party or government.

Meanwhile it has been three months since Chinese rock musician Li Zhi disappeared from public view.

First, an upcoming tour was cancelled and his social media accounts were taken down. Then his music was removed from all of China’s major streaming sites – as if his career had never existed at all.

Li is an outspoken artist who dared to broach the taboo subject of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

People like Li have been pushed into the shadows as China braces for Tuesday’s 30th anniversary of the military crackdown.