Facing increasing criticism for detaining dozens of activists ahead of Wednesday’s 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, an unrepentant China on Tuesday defended the army’s action in 1989, saying it was for the sake of the people.
Twenty five years ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) had dismissed the student-led pro-democracy protests as “counter-revolutionary”.
On the night of June 3, the People’s Liberation Army had stormed the vast square from various sides and using unmitigated violence had cleared the square of camping students.
The death toll was never officially released. Estimates, according to rights groups, vary between hundreds and thousands.
“The Chinese government long ago reached a conclusion about the political turmoil at the end of the 1980s,” Hone Lei, foreign ministry spokesperson said Tuesday.
“In the last three decades and more of reform and opening up, China's enormous achievements in social and economic development have received worldwide attention. The building of democracy and the rule of law have continued to be perfected,” he said.
“These realties show that the path we have chosen is in line with our national conditions and in fundamental interest of Chinese people. It reflects the common aspiration of Chinese people,” he said.
The government’s defence came on a day when rights body Amnesty International said at least 66 activists and lawyers have now been detained by the Chinese authorities in connection to the Tiananmen anniversary.
But according to Hong, China does not have dissidents.
“In China there are only law breakers -- there are no so-called dissidents,” he said.
“They have gone further when compared to past years including the 20th anniversary, with more people criminally detained this time,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.