By Justin Sink - 06/04/14 07:23 AM EDT
President Obama marked the 25th anniversary of the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square on Wednesday in Poland, saying that history cautioned those in the free world “never to take progress for granted."
“On the same day 25 years ago that Poles were voting here, tanks were crushing peaceful democracy protests in Tiananmen Square,” Obama said. “The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation — including our own. This is the work to which we rededicate ourselves today.”
The move by Obama to recognize the bloody protests could strain relations with Beijing, where mention of the event has been scrubbed from official records and Chinese websites. Leaders rarely, if ever, mention the crackdown, and dissidents who openly discuss the violence have been jailed.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing are at a heightened level after the U.S. last month took the unprecedented step to indict five Chinese military officials accused of hacking U.S. companies to steal industry secrets.
Separately, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement calling on Chinese authorities to “account for those killed, detained, or missing in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989. “
“The United States will always speak out in support of the basic freedoms the protesters at Tiananmen Square sought, including the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press, and the freedoms of association and assembly,” Carney said.
Carney’s statement, however, also applauded “China’s extraordinary social and economic progress over the past three decades” and said the U.S. continued to “value good relations with the Chinese people and government.”
“Even as we continue our cooperation on areas of common interest, the United States will continue to be clear about our differences, and urge the Chinese government to guarantee the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all Chinese citizens,” Carney said.