Monday 23 September 2019

Tiananmen massacre was 'right for stability', China says

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe speaks at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore. Photo: REUTERS/Feline Lim
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe speaks at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore. Photo: REUTERS/Feline Lim

Patricia Smalling

China's defence minister has defended 1989's bloody crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, which he claimed was justified in the name of stability.

Referring to the demonstrations as political "turbulence", Wei Fenghe said it had been the "correct policy" for troops with assault rifles and tanks to open fire on the unarmed, student-led protesters.

Estimates of the death toll in the June 1989 massacre range from 1,500 to 4,000 with 10,000 wounded.

"Throughout the 30 years, China under the Communist Party has undergone many changes," General Wei said in a hard-line speech about trade and security at a regional forum in Singapore.

"Do you think the government was wrong with the handling of June 4?" he said.

"There was a conclusion to that incident. The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence."

He said the Tiananmen protests were "political turmoil that the central government needed to quell, which was the correct policy" and claimed that China's stability and development justified the actions.

It is rare for Chinese authorities to even acknowledge the demonstrations, in which students and workers occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square in a pro-democracy protest.

It was joined by a million people at its peak, but then tanks and troops moved into the square and opened fire on unarmed protesters in and around the central Beijing landmark.

Afterwards, the Chinese authorities blamed the protests on counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the Communist Party and claimed no one had been shot dead in the square itself.

Independent News Service

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