China ratchets up censorship on Tiananmen anniversary

CHINA ; Thirty years after Chinese soldiers killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of demonstrators in Beijing and other cities, memories of the violence remain fraught, with China detaining activists, tightening censorship and denouncing calls for a full accounting of the bloodshed.

The 30th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters was tense in China on Tuesday, the strain heightened by a trade war with the United States and worries that Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese city that holds the largest public vigil for the dead, is losing its singular status and freedoms.

On Tuesday, China denounced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement a day earlier honoring the protesters and criticizing continuing human rights abuses.

Pompeo’s statement was made “out of prejudice and arrogance” and “grossly intervenes in China’s internal affairs, attacks its system, and smears its domestic and foreign policies,” the Chinese Embassy in Washington said.

The embassy’s comments came a day after a commentary in the English-language edition of Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party, called the crackdown a “vaccination” for Chinese society “against any major political turmoil in the future.” On Sunday, Defense Minister Wei Fenghe called it the “correct” decision, after being asked about it at a defense forum in Singapore.

In Beijing on Tuesday, there were only hints of the violence that engulfed the city 30 years ago. Security on the square was tight, and Chinese social media services were censored more vigorously than normal.

Some artists and intellectuals in the mainland have tried to speak out about the anniversary. While accepting an award last week at the Palace Museum across from the square in Beijing, artist Zhang Yue spoke on stage about how he was “ashamed” to have made concessions to censorship in his artwork.