A newspaper that operates as a mouthpiece for the Chinese government has labelled the Tiananmen Square massacre “a vaccination for the Chinese society” which helped improve the country’s economy and living standards.
On Tuesday, world leaders including Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commemorated the 30th anniversary of the day Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds of young people.
But in response, China’s English-language newspaper accused the US of using the “incident” to stir up anti-China sentiment.
“Due to the deterioration of China-US ties, US officials have launched fierce attacks against China that have focused on the incident since last year,” The Global Times wrote in an editorial.
“But Chinese people are clear that those officials are not genuinely concerned about Chinese human rights, but are making use of the incident as a diplomatic tool to challenge China.”
The tabloid paper also blamed “dissidents” and students and urged Chinese people to move on from the “faded political event”.
“(The incident) has become a faded historical event, rather than an actual entanglement,” the editorial said.
“As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China’s immunity against any major political turmoil in the future.”
The insistence by the Communist-led government to quash any recognition of the massacre has drawn criticism from the US and Australia.
On Tuesday Ms Payne said Australia remained critical of strict rules in China that forbid its citizens from speaking out against the government.
“Thirty years ago in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, peaceful student protests were ended using military force,” Senator Payne said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Australia joins the international community in remembering the tragic loss of life on 4 June, 1989.
“Australia remains concerned about continuing constraints on freedom of association, expression and political participation in China.”
Tuesday marked 30 years since at least hundreds – likely many more – of students protesting against the Chinese Communist Party were killed by the Chinese military in Beijing.
The anniversary reignited international condemnation of China’s tough rules on freedom of expression and political participation that remain in force today.
China has the fourth most repressed media in the world, just after Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan, according to Reporters Without Borders.
This spectacular night scene of the mass hunger strike in Tiananmen Square 1989 was taken by a friend of mine. He wants it to be shared, but is too afraid to reveal his name. pic.twitter.com/dlemRXY3l4
— 马建 Ma Jian (@majian53) June 4, 2019
— Amy Qin (@amyyqin) June 4, 2019
Meanwhile, Taiwan had a second jab at China on Tuesday, saying the country was continuing with its cover ups.
President Tsai Ing-wen said in a Facebook post: “The Chinese government not only did not plan to repent for the past mistake, but it also continued to cover up the truth”.
“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.
Mr Pompeo tweeted some strong words in relation to the massacre, saying the killings “still stir the conscience … of freedom-loving people around the world”.
Today, we call on China to release all those held for seeking to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, to halt the use of arbitrary detention, and to reverse counterproductive policies that conflate terrorism with religious and political expression. #Tiananmen30
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 3, 2019
Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the “brutal and tragic” event would always be remembered, adding former prime minister Bob Hawke granted thousands of Chinese students permission to stay in Australia.
“Later becoming permanent residents, they have made substantial contributions to Australia and to the strong ties between our two countries,” she said.
“Labor continues to stand with them and all Chinese-Australians who were affected as they mark this anniversary.”
In China no one was talking about June 4
While countries around the world commemorated the tragic loss of life at Tiananmen Square, for most people in China the anniversary passed like just another day.
That’s because any commemoration of the event was not allowed in mainland China, and the government blocked access to information about it on the internet.
Chinese authorities stepped up security around Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, a reminder of the government’s attempts to quash any memories of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests 30 years ago.
Extra checkpoints and street closures greeted tourists who showed up before 5am to watch the daily flag-raising ceremony.
An honour guard marched across a barricaded road and raised the Chinese flag as the national anthem played.
Foreign journalists were not allowed onto the square to record events.
When questioned by foreign journalists, the government has defended its actions on that night by pointing to the country’s economic success since then.
“The tremendous achievements in China’s development in the past 70 years have fully proven that the development path we have chosen is completely correct,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing on Monday.