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Pompeo’s Tiananmen Comments Attack ‘Relatively Small’ Part of China’s History

© AP Photo / Ted S. WarrenChinese and US flags. (File)
Chinese and US flags. (File) - Sputnik International
Top US and Chinese officials exchanged sharp criticisms in the run up to Tuesday’s 30th anniversary of the 1989 events in Tiananmen Square, a historic incident which remains an important issue in contemporary US-China relations, John Ross, a senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute, Renmin University of China, told Sputnik.

"It is a farce for [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo to attack China's human rights record," Ross, who is also an award-winning resident columnist with several Chinese media organizations, told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

"Even if the worst US accounts of what happened on June 4 [1989] were correct, which I don't believe for a single minute, it amounts to less than the US killed in a few hours for months on end, for example, in Iraq."


​"Secondly, I don't believe even the worst US accounts… I've learned a long time ago not to believe the accounts which appear in the official statements of the US media. China has the best human rights record in the word, by which I mean it has made the greatest contribution to the well-being of humanity in the world. It has raised 850 million people out of poverty, 75% of those who have been lifted out of poverty in the entire world. [The United States]… system has done nothing comparable, so this attack by the US on China over this issue is a farce," Ross added. 

A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989 - Sputnik International
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On June 4, 1989, a student-led protest being held in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in favor of democratic values was dispersed by the Chinese army, leaving over 200 dead and 7,000 injured, according to official estimates. Human rights activists have claimed the death toll is in the thousands, Sputnik previously reported. The protests were triggered by the death of pro-reform Chinese Community Party leader Hu Yaobang.

Pompeo released a statement on June 3 criticizing the Chinese government, claiming that it continues to deny its citizens to human rights.

"Over the decades that followed, the United States hoped that China's integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society," Pompeo said. 

U.S. President Donald Trump, second right, and China's President Xi Jinping, second left, attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. - Sputnik International
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"Today, Chinese citizens have been subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang, where the Communist Party leadership is methodically attempting to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups," the statement added.

One day later, a spokesperson for China's embassy in the US said that Pompeo's statements were made "out of prejudice and arrogance," also noting that the "Chinese government and people reached the verdict on the political incident of the late 1980s long ago."

"Over the past four decades of reform and opening-up, China has enjoyed rapid economic and social development, continuous progress in democracy and the rule of law, flourishing culture and significantly improved standards of living," the statement added.

Later that day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters during a press conference that Pompeo's "lunatic ravings and babbling nonsense will only end up in the trash can of history."

According to Ross, even if the US accounts of Tiananmen Square are true, "it's a relatively small thing" in China's development. 

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2017 file photo, an American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing - Sputnik International
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"That is why nobody in China, except for a few people, try to make great noise about this. The reason why the events took place is very simple: it's because [General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union] Mikhail Gorbachev was going to come to China, and the US was absolutely terrified that there would be a rapprochement between Soviet Union and China," Ross said.

Pompeo's comments come amid a trade war that has been raging between the US and China since June 2018. Both countries have exchanged multiple rounds of tariffs on each other's imports, with the latest session of their trade talks coming to a standstill last month.

"Whereas most countries want a win-win relationship with China and China wants a win-win relationship with them, Trump has chosen a lose-lose one. He wants to inflict pain on China… If Trump thinks China is going to be put off by a little bit of economic pressure, he has made a most tremendous miscalculation," Ross explained, noting the trade war had stirred up anti-American sentiment in the country that the Chinese government was having trouble restraining.

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