China’s 1989 ‘slaughter’ not forgotten – US

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The White House said Thursday that China’s “slaughter” of protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 has not been forgotten, urging Beijing to give its first accurate accounting of the bloodshed.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s slaughter of unarmed Chinese civilians was a tragedy that will not be forgotten,” President Donald Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

“The United States calls on China to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and to provide a full accounting of those who were killed, detained, or remain missing in connection with the events surrounding the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989.”

Beijing’s city government claimed weeks after the crackdown that around 200 people had died, the vast majority soldiers, with only 36 university students killed.

China’s central government has never released a full official toll, but estimates from academics, witnesses and human rights groups have put the figure between several hundred to over 1,000.

Open discussion of the brutal suppression is forbidden in mainland China. In Hong Kong, where Beijing is tightening its central rule, a mass vigil to mark the anniversary was banned, though tens of thousands of people defied the decision.

Every year, the United States issues a similar statement demanding China be held accountable. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with survivors, including Wang Dan, perhaps the most prominent of the student leaders from the doomed pro-democracy protest.

Pompeo, who had earlier denounced China for preventing Hong Kong’s annual commemoration on the grounds that mass gatherings went against guidelines in fighting the coronavirus, tweeted a photo of the meeting.

However, this year, Washington’s message has been overshadowed by what critics describe as Trump’s heavy-handed response to nationwide protests – some marred by rioting and arson – against police brutality.

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