A Chinese state-run newspaper has described the massacre that ended mass pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 as a “vaccination” that protected the country from future “political turmoil.”
June 4 is the 30th anniversary of the military crackdown that activists say claimed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilian deaths in central Beijing.
In an editorial published Monday, nationalistic tabloid Global Times said the government’s decision in 1989 had ended “disputes” in the country and helped “all the Chinese people face the future.”
“Since the incident, China has successfully become the world’s second largest economy, with rapid improvement of people’s living standards. The policy of avoiding arguing has served as a contributor to the country’s economic take-off,” the article said.
“As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China’s immunity against any major political turmoil in the future.”
The Chinese government has long tried to erase the incident from the country’s collective memory, but in the walk up to the anniversary it has been defending its decision to use force in 1989, at least internationally. The Global Times article was not featured on the paper’s Chinese website at the time of writing, and comments by officials mentioning June 4 have been removed from Chinese transcripts.
At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe described the Tiananmen protests as “political turmoil that the central government needed to quell.”
“The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence, that was the correct policy,” he said.
Former 1989 protesters who have left China said the lack of political dissent in the country, and discussion of Tiananmen Square, was more due to fear than to a wide consensus.