World Asia 03 Jun 2019 China defends Tianan ...

China defends Tiananmen crackdown

AFP
Published Jun 3, 2019, 2:39 am IST
Updated Jun 3, 2019, 2:39 am IST
Hundreds, or possibly more than 1,000, were killed, although the precise number of deaths remains unknown.
Defence Minister Wei Fenghe. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
 Defence Minister Wei Fenghe. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Singapore: China on Sunday defended the bloody Tiananmen crackdown on student protesters in a rare public acknowledgement of the event, days before its 30th anniversary, saying it was the “correct” policy.

After seven weeks of protests by students and workers demanding democratic change and the end of corruption, soldiers and tanks chased and killed demonstrators and onlookers in the streets leading to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4 1989.

 

Hundreds, or possibly more than 1,000, were killed, although the precise number of deaths remains unknown.

“That incident was a political turbulence and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence which is a correct policy,” Chinese defence minister General Wei Fenghe told a regional security forum in Singapore.

Wei asked why people still say that China “did not handle the incident properly”.

“The 30 years have proven that China has undergone major changes,” he said in response to a question from audience, adding that because of the government’s action at that time “China has enjoyed stability and development”. Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in US, said she was surprised at the question on Tiananmen raised at an open forum after Wei’s speech, but the fact that the general answered it was “unusual”.

People may dispute Wei’s answer “but at least I can give him credit for taking the question”, Glaser added.

Inside China an army of online censors have scrubbed clean social media, removing articles, memes, hash-tags or photos alluding to the Tiananmen crackdown ahead of June 4.

Discussions of the 1989 pro-democracy protests and their brutal suppression are strictly taboo, and authorities have rounded up or warned activists, lawyers and journalists ahead of the anniversary each year. Talking privately with family and friends is possible, but any commemoration in public risks almost certain arrest.

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