Tiananmen 'immunised China against turmoil': Chinese daily

Residents gather near the smoking remains of over 20 armoured personnel carriers burned by demonstrators during clashes with soldiers near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese state-run daily defended the government's handling of the Tiananmen protests on Monday (June 3), saying it "immunised" China against turmoil, in a rare editorial about the crackdown on the eve of its 30th anniversary.

Hundreds or, by some estimates, more than 1,000 unarmed civilians were killed when troops and tanks were deployed to extinguish the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

The Global Times' English-language edition hailed the Chinese government's handling of what it called the "incident" in an editorial titled: "June 4 immunised China against turmoil."

"As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China's immunity against any major political turmoil in the future," wrote the nationalist tabloid, which is affiliated to the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily.

The paper echoed comments by China's defence minister, General Wei Fenghe, who defended the bloody crackdown as the "correct policy" at a regional security forum in Singapore on Sunday.

It is rare for Chinese officials or media to publicly discuss the strictly taboo topic. The authorities have detained activists and tightened online censorship ahead of the anniversary.

The party's "control of the incident" in 1989 has been a "watershed" that marked the difference between China's rapid economic progress and the fate of other communist countries such as the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia that disintegrated, the Global Times said.

The editorial - which appeared only in the English-language print edition of the paper - also rebuked dissidents, Western politicians and media, saying their criticism of the event would have "no real impact" on Chinese society.

The Communist Party has tightened its grip on civil society since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, detaining activists, rights lawyers, intensifying online censorship and using high-tech policing to keep the population in check.

The Global Times said today's China with its growing wealth has "no political conditions" that could reignite "the riots" seen three decades ago.

"Chinese society, including its political elite, is now far more mature than in 1989."

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