China has defended the Tiananmen Square crackdown – days before its 30th anniversary – saying it was the “correct policy”.
In a rare acknowledgement of the bloody crackdown, the country’s defence minister Wi Fenghe said the nation had been stable since.
Hundreds of protesters demanding democratic reform were killed when soldiers opened fire on crowds gathered in the square on 4 June 1989.
Some estimates put the death toll at more than 1,000 people.
The crackdown saw Chinese soldiers crush months of peaceful protests by students who were demanding political reform.
“That incident was a political turbulence and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence which is a correct policy,” Mr Wei told a regional security forum in Singapore.
“The 30 years have proven that China has undergone major changes,” he said, adding that because of the government’s action at that time “China has enjoyed stability and development”.
Every year, dozens of activists, government critics and journalists are detained by police in the run-up to the anniversary.
Chinese rock musician Li Zhi, who has been outspoken and sung songs about social issues including the Tiananmen Square crackdown, has not been seen for three months.
His upcoming tour has been cancelled and his social media accounts taken down.
Thirteen people, including a filmmaker, have either been detained or taken away from their homes in connection with the anniversary, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an advocacy group.
Bilibili, a Chinese video streaming site, announced last week that its popular real-time comments feature will be disabled until 6 June for “system upgrades”.
Amnesty International last week urged Chinese authorities to “end a wave of persecution targeting those seeking to commemorate the victims” of the bloodshed.
“However, President Xi continues to read from the same tired political playbook, cruelly persecuting those seeking the truth about the tragedy in a concerted effort to wipe the June 4 crackdown from memory,” said the human rights group.
Days later, Wu Qian, a spokesman for the defence ministry, decried the use of the word “suppression” to describe the crackdown.
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