Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

China and United States in war of words over Tiananmen crackdown death toll

China and United States in war of words over Tiananmen crackdown death toll

The US on Monday urged China to make a full public account of those killed, detained or who went missing during a crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

On the night of June 3, 1989, soldiers opened fire on protesters who had occupied the Tiananmen Square for weeks, acting on Chinese leaders' order to disperse the crowd.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comments at a regular briefing in Beijing. A British diplomatic cable released a year ago said at least 10,000 people were killed.

China's door to talks is open in principle, its Foreign Ministry said yesterday, a day after Beijing warned that any trade and business deals reached with Washington would be void if the United States implemented tariffs.

"As Liu Xiaobo wrote in his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize speech, delivered in absentia, "the ghosts of June 4th have not yet been laid to rest"," Pompeo said, referring to the Chinese dissident who died previous year while still in custody.

While mainland Chinese are only dimly aware of what happened at Tiananmen Square almost three decades ago, the subject is openly discussed in Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy.

"We have already made representation to the USA side", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing.

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However, Hu Zizzing, editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, called the statement Pompeo "meaningless stunt" that "represents the will of the Western world to intervene in the political process of China".

Chow's speech says: "They want us to accept this reality: China is under the rule of the Communist Party, and the regime is going to last forever".

Tens of thousands of people gathered in a downtown park in Hong Kong for an annual public commemoration of the crackdown.

In Taiwan, the democratic island nation that is increasingly threatened by Beijing's aggression, President Tsai Ing-wen also commemorated the anniversary and said in a Facebook post that she hopes "both sides of the Taiwan Strait can enjoy the universal values of freedom and democracy".

"The public does not even have to use VPNs (virtual private network)", referring to a method used by Chinese netizens to avoid detection by China's internet authorities, which persistently blocks users from getting information deemed politically inappropriate. "I sincerely believe that if the Beijing authorities can face up to the June 4 incident and recognize the state's violence at its essence, the unfortunate history of June 4 will be the foundation of China's liberalization and democratization".

However, the full truth about the incident remains unknown and the Chinese government has yet to offer redress to victims and their families, the MAC said in its statement, while expressing regret over the matter.

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