China lauds rights progress, blasts Pompeo 'nonsense'

Top News | Agencies and Stella Wong 5 Jun 2019

Beijing's human rights are in the "best period ever," said China's embassy in the United States as it crossed swords with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the June 4 crackdown.

In a strongly worded statement, Pompeo called on Beijing to mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising by releasing all prisoners jailed for fighting human rights abuses in China.

He again urged China to make a full public account of those killed or missing in the 1989 incident who he referred to as "heroes" who inspired future generations to call for freedom and democracy around the world.

Over the decades that followed the incident, the US hoped that China's integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society, he said.

"Those hopes have been dashed. 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 Uygur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups," he wrote.

China's embassy in the US expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with Pompeo's statement, saying the intervention in China's internal affairs was made out of "prejudice and arrogance."

The embassy added: "The Chinese government and people reached the verdict on 1989 long ago. After four decades of reform and opening up, China's human rights are in the best period ever. The Chinese people have the best say on China."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a press briefing in Beijing that Pompeo's statement "maliciously attacks China's political system, denigrates the state of China's human rights and religious affairs, wantonly criticizes China's Xinjiang policy and severely interferes in China's domestic affairs.

"These lunatic ravings and babbling nonsense will only end up in the trash can of history."

The fiery exchange took place as Sino-US relations soured amid a trade war.

Meanwhile, the US consulate in Hong Kong shared a video on its Facebook page, which included footage of soldiers shooting at citizens and the "tank man" standing in front of a column of tanks.

The European Union urged China to acknowledge those killed or imprisoned in of 1989.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc continues to mourn those killed in the "brutal repression" at Tiananmen.

"The exact numbers of those who died and were detained on June 4 and in the subsequent crackdown have never been confirmed, and may never be known," she said.

"Acknowledgement of these events, and of those killed, detained or missing in connection with the Tiananmen Square protests, is important for future generations and for the collective memory."

The German consulate general in Hong Kong wrote on its Facebook page: "On this day, we are reminded of the fact that human rights and freedom should never be taken for granted."

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen yesterday posted a cartoon which said "Don't forget June 4."

She wrote: "Whether a country is considered civilized depends on how the government treats its citizens and its mistakes in the past."

Tsai said how former June 4 student leader Feng Congde was barred from entering Hong Kong, and the Defense Minister Wei Fenghe justifying the incident as a "correct decision" showed the mainland is not reflecting on its mistakes and is still wanting to hide the truth. She said many incidents in Hong Kong showed that "one country" has been encroaching on "two systems."

stellast.wong@singtaonewscorp.com

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