Today marks the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests in China. And between last week’s announcement of new security laws in Hong Kong and President Donald Trump’s banning Chinese students, China and the United States seem headed for further clashes.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marked the anniversary of China’s deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. He met with a group of survivors at the State Department and condemned China for barring today’s annual vigil to mark the event.
June 4 is the anniversary of the assault on protesters by China’s People’s Liberation Army. The decision to bar the vigil is on supposed health grounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also comes just a week after China’s communist-led parliament enacted a new security law for Hong Kong. Many people fear that law will severely limit freedoms in the territory.
“For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities denied permission to hold the #TiananmenVigil,” Pompeo tweeted. “If there is any doubt about Beijing’s intent, it is to deny Hong Kongers a voice and a choice, making them the same as mainlanders.”
U.S. officials strongly condemn China’s increasing control over Hong Kong. Last week, the administration declared that Hong Kong is no longer independent. In response, they plan to strip the region of its favored trade and business status. Hong Kong enjoyed that status while under British rule and more recently as an autonomous region of China.
Just days after China announced its new law, President Trump banned Chinese graduate students and researchers with links to the People’s Liberation Army or other Chinese security services from the United States. U.S. officials say the ban is meant to curb widespread spying and intellectual property theft by Chinese students and researchers.
U.S. officials say the number of affected students would be “very low.” They insist the United States will continue to welcome the vast majority of Chinese students who want to study at American universities.
On Tuesday in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry lashed out at the student ban, which Trump announced last Friday.
China ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says the ban “seriously infringes the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students studying abroad [and] completely violates the common aspiration of both the Chinese and American peoples.”
(Protesters gesture with five fingers, signifying the “Five demands—not one less” in a shopping mall during a protest against China’s national security legislation for Hong Kong on Monday, June 1, 2020. AP Photo/Vincent Yu)