China defends Tiananmen crackdown on eve of 25th anniversary

Tue Jun 3, 2014 6:19am EDT
 
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By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - China defended the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on Tuesday, the eve of the 25th anniversary, saying it had chosen the correct path for the sake of the people.

For the ruling Communist Party, the 1989 demonstrations that clogged Tiananmen Square in Beijing and spread to other cities remain taboo after the government termed the protests "counter-revolutionary".

The anniversary of the date on which troops shot their way into central Beijing in 1989 has never been publicly marked in mainland China, though every year there are commemorations in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, as well as in self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

The government has never released a death toll for the crackdown, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.

"The Chinese government long ago reached a conclusion about the political turmoil at the end of the 1980s," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

"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.

"It can be said that the road to socialism with Chinese characteristics which we follow today accords with China's national condition and the basic interests of the vast majority of China's people, which is the aspiration of all China's people."

The foreign ministry is typically the only government department which will regularly answer questions from foreign reporters, especially on sensitive topics.   Continued...

 
A shopper stands in front of a mock tank made by university students, imitating those used during the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, during an exhibition on the movement at Hong Kong's Causeway Bay shopping district June 3, 2014. Wednesday marks the 25th anniversary of the crackdown. REUTERS/Bobby Yip