In light of the United States’ statements about the commemoration of Tiananmen, China launched a verbal counterattack and harshly criticized the human rights situation in the United States. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday that Beijing has urged Washington to “look in the mirror” and “face its serious human rights problems.” The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, had said earlier that his country “will honor the victims of those who were killed 32 years ago.”
Blinken praised “the brave activists who continue their efforts today in the face of continued government repression.” On the night of June 4, 1989, the Chinese army advanced with its tanks against student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square for more democracy. Hundreds, by some estimates, more than a thousand were killed. The events of 1989 are taboo in China to this day, and all commemorative events are banned in mainland China.
Wang stressed Friday that the United States must be held accountable for a range of grievances — from minorities to the treatment of immigrants. “Given its grave human rights actions, what qualifies the United States to teach others?” he said.
On the occasion of the 32nd anniversary, Beijing has tightened security measures. In Hong Kong, authorities banned a memorial celebration for the second time in a row with reference to the coronavirus pandemic – although there have been no recent cases of infection. A representative of the Hong Kong Alliance, which organizes a vigil on June 4 every year to commemorate the victims of the brutal 1989 crackdown, was arrested Friday morning. By late evening, police reported at least six arrests for violating the ban on gatherings and other crimes.
Because of the ban on gatherings, activists abandoned the memorial ceremonies that had been held for three decades. Instead, they called on people to light candles in their homes on Friday evening to commemorate the Tiananmen protest crackdown with messages on the Internet.
But users have also been banned from posting the candle symbol on Chinese online platforms WeChat and Weibo. The search for the number “64”, which falls on June 4, the date of the campaign, has been blocked on Weibo.
Relatives of the “Tiananmen Mothers Network” demanded the truth about the massacre and compensation be revealed. Those responsible must be held accountable, according to an open letter released Friday by Human Rights China (HRiC) on the anniversary.