Taiwan has had a second jab at China over the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square 30 years ago.
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said China continued to cover up the truth about the crackdown that brought a brutal end to the protests.
Ms Tsai made her comments on Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of the day Chinese troops opened fire to end the student-led unrest in Beijing.
“The Chinese government not only did not plan to repent for the past mistake, but it also continued to cover up the truth,” she said in a Facebook post.
“Please be reassured – Taiwan will definitely defend democracy and freedom. Regardless of threats and infiltration, as long as I’m the president, Taiwan would not bow to pressure.”
Ms Tsai’s comments came just a day after Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council urged China to “sincerely repent” for the Tiananmen Square massacre.
“China has to sincerely repent for the June 4 incident and proactively push for democratic reforms,” it said on Monday.
Chinese authorities ban any public commemoration of Tiananmen Square, and have never released a full death toll. Estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.
Democratic Taiwan tends to use the Tiananmen Square anniversary to criticise China and call for it to face up to its actions. China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be taken back by force if necessary.
Ms Tsai’s Facebook post, which was accompanied by a cartoon of her holding a candle, also expressed concern for China’s “erosion of freedom” in Hong Kong. It was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula.
Her comments also came ahead of large candlelight vigils in the region, including in Taipei and Hong Kong, to commemorate the events of 1989, which remain a taboo subject in China.
Beijing has increased government suppression of rights activism, pushing the demonstrators’ original goals further away than ever.
Financial information provider Refinitiv, under pressure from China’s government, has removed from its Eikon terminal Reuters news stories related to the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.
China suspects Ms Tsai and her ruling party of pushing formal independence for Taiwan, a red line for China.