Pompeo criticizes China on Tiananmen Square anniversary amid US protests
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday criticized Chinese and Hong Kong authorities for banning a vigil marking the 1989 massacre of pro-Democracy protesters on Tiananmen Square, one day after President Trump oversaw a crackdown on protesters outside the White House.
“It starts; so soon,” Pompeo tweeted. “For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities denied permission to hold the #TiananmenVigil. 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. So much for two systems.”
It starts; so soon. For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities denied permission to hold the #TiananmenVigil. 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. So much for two systems.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 2, 2020
The secretary is expected to meet with Tiananmen Square survivors, according to the State Department.
Pompeo has focused intense criticism on the Chinese Communist Party over the spread of the novel coronavirus and condemned Beijing’s actions with respect to Hong Kong, most recently certifying the territory as no longer autonomous from mainland China and laying the groundwork for Trump to impose sanctions and visa restrictions and end bilateral agreements with the U.S.
Hong Kong officials denied organizers for the Tiananmen square vigil permission, citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Only the semi-autonomous territories of Hong Kong and Macau have been allowed to hold annual vigils marking the events of June 3 and June 4. The approximate numbers of those killed and injured are unknown, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand.
The June 1989 crackdown on pro-Democracy demonstrators in the plaza of Tiananmen Square is viewed as one China’s bloodiest assaults on protesters and is considered an ongoing miscarriage of justice, as ruling Chinese leaders have effectively erased the moment from the national conscious.
Pompeo’s meeting with pro-Democracy Chinese protesters comes amid increased calls by Trump for law enforcement to “dominate” the streets and crack down on rioting and looting that have occurred among largely peaceful protests over the course of the week.
The protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man seen in a video saying he couldn’t breathe as a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck. He later died in police custody. The protests, however, are part of a larger call to end racial disparities and violence against African Americans.
On Monday, the president had federal law enforcement outside the White House fire tear gas and rubber bullets and use physical force to disperse peaceful protests, clearing a path for the president to cross the street for a photo outside a church that had been vandalized earlier.