China dismisses U.S. call on Tiananmen anniversary

Sat Jun 4, 2011 1:16pm EDT
 
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By Ben Blanchard and James Pomfret

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - China dismissed a U.S. call for it to free dissidents and fully account for the victims of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, on the anniversary of the crushing of the pro-democracy uprising 22 years ago.

The date on which troops shot their way into central Beijing in 1989, killing hundreds, was not publicly marked in mainland China. The democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere remain taboo for the ruling Communist Party, especially this year after calls for an Arab-style "jasmine revolution."

In Hong Kong, tens of thousands lit candles, held jasmine flowers and chanted for a fully democratic China in a night vigil to mark the anniversary and condemn Beijing's human rights abuses and curbs on freedoms.

The State Department said China must release all those still jailed for their participation in the 1989 protests.

"We ask the Chinese government to provide the fullest possible public accounting of those killed, detained or missing," deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

At least five people remain in jail for taking part in the protests.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, said the U.S. comments "groundlessly accused the Chinese government."

"We urge the U.S. side to abandon its political bias and rectify wrong practices to avoid disturbing China-U.S. relations."   Continued...

 
<p>People walk past a replica of the Goddess of Democracy as they enter Hong Kong's Victoria Park to take park in a candlelight vigil June 4, 2011, to mark the 22nd anniversary of the military crackdown of the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>