By Bridget Johnson - 06/03/09 05:12 PM EDT
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has called a hearing on U.S.-China climate-change cooperation to be held the same day as the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman announced the hearing, “Challenges and Opportunities for U.S.- China Cooperation on Climate Change,” late Wednesday. According to a release from Kerry's office, the hearing is intended to explore the opportunities for building a stronger clean-energy relationship between the U.S. and China, and to study whether China's development plans are compatible with combating climate change.
The violent government crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators began late in the evening on June 3, 1989, with the square being cleared by the military on June 4, leaving an unknown number of students and laborers dead. The infamous "tank man," who stood in front of an approaching column of tanks in footage that captured the world's attention, still has not been located.
China is marking the anniversary by banning Twitter and Flickr, along with thousands of other websites containing message boards, and barring foreign reporters from entering the square. While the subject of the massacre is officially taboo in China, many Chinese privately refer to the bloody events simply as Six Four.
On China's official Xinhua website Wednesday evening, relations with the U.S. were also being lauded, with a story promoting "new landmark talks" on strategic and economic dialogue between the two nations coming up in July.
A secondary story noted that President Hu Jintao had called President Obama on the phone Wednesday morning.
"China is willing to make joint efforts with the United States to expand mutual exchanges, deepen cooperation, and move forward bilateral ties continuously, [Hu] added," the story said. "Obama expressed his satisfaction with the development of the U.S.-China relations, saying both sides have recently conducted fruitful high-level exchanges."
The story also said Obama and Hu talked about North Korea and boosting "cooperation with China on a broad range of major issues."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement Wednesday in recognition of "the 20th anniversary of the violent suppression of demonstrations in Tiananmen Square by Chinese authorities."
"This anniversary provides an opportunity for Chinese authorities to release from prison all those still serving sentences in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989," Clinton said. "We urge China to cease the harassment of participants in the demonstrations and begin dialogue with the family members of victims, including the Tiananmen Mothers.
"China can honor the memory of that day by moving to give the rule of law, protection of internationally-recognized human rights, and democratic development the same priority as it has given to economic reform."