After US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he would honour those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, China on June 4 ripped into the US’ human rights record and told Washington to “look in the mirror”. While speaking at a news briefing, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged the US to “face up to its own serious human rights problems”. Wang said that America needed to hold itself to account for a range of abuses, from minorities to its treatment of migrants.
“Considering its irrefutable misdeeds on human rights, what qualifies the United States to lecture others?" he said.
"Young people in China will get education and enlightenment from history... and continue to unswervingly follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics," Wang added.
On June 4, 1989, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Tiananmen Square calling for democracy, less censorship and greater freedom of speech. Soldiers marched into Beijing and opened fire on the protesters crushing a weeks-long wave of demonstrations. Hundreds were killed in the crackdown, by some estimates more than 1,000.
The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the People's Liberation Army to occupy parts of central Beijing. Today, the incident is known as the June Fourth Incident in China or the Tiananmen Square Massacre. To mark the anniversary, every year thousands gather in various parts of the county, lighting candles and singing songs in remembrance.
However, with Chinese youth having no direct memories of the Tiananmen movement, Beijing has gone to exhaustive lengths to prevent commemorations, detaining activists and bringing live streaming services down for "technical" reasons. China’s official verdict remains that the largely peaceful protests aimed to topple the ruling Communist Party and plunge the country into chaos. The Chinese officials have censored any mention of events online and social media users on the WeChat and Weibo platforms have also been prevented from posting the candle emoji.