Schiff uses Tiananmen anniversary to condemn Trump's response to protests

Schiff uses Tiananmen anniversary to condemn Trump's response to protests
© Greg Nash

A top House Democrat on Thursday marked the 31st anniversary of China’s deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square by condemning President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE’s response to mass demonstrations across the U.S. against racial injustice and police brutality.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff to subpoena top DHS official, alleges whistleblower deposition is being stonewalled Schiff claims DHS is blocking whistleblower's access to records before testimony GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the U.S. is losing its “moral authority” to denounce crimes abroad while images are seen of a violent police response against peaceful protesters at home.

“While we pause to remember the innocent lives lost and demand that the Chinese government reckon with its state-sanctioned violence, we must acknowledge that America’s moral authority to denounce these crimes relies upon our setting an example here at home,” Schiff wrote.

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“But when our police attack peaceful protestors fighting for a more just society with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bang grenades, we not only violate American values, but we also [lose] our credibility when advocating for human rights and democratic freedoms abroad,” Schiff wrote.

President Trump has responded to mass demonstrations taking place across the U.S. by calling to “dominate” the streets with police force and the military, criticized as an outsize response to instances of looting and violence that have punctuated largely peaceful protests.

The mass protests are against racial injustice and police brutality, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In one of the more jarring images of force against protesters, federal officers outside the White House on Monday violently cleared peaceful demonstrators to allow the president to walk across the street for a photo outside a church.

Parts of the church had been set on fire the night before in acts of vandalism that took place on the sidelines of the largely peaceful demonstrations.

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Schiff said the Chinese are using those images to highlight the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration's calls for Beijing to respect human rights and Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“Indeed, the Chinese state media has sought to capitalize on images of police brutality in the United States, highlighting the hypocrisy in the Trump Administration’s policy supporting greater freedoms within China and Hong Kong while failing to adhere to these own values at home,” the chairman wrote.

Trump has called for an end to the United States' special relationship with Hong Kong in response to Beijing exerting more control over the semi-autonomous territory with a proposed "national security law" — meant to criminalize acts of secession, sedition and terrorism but widely viewed as eliminating in the territory special freedoms of speech and assembly not enjoyed by the majority of mainland-Chinese.

U.S. officials have also condemned the decision by Hong Kong authorities to cancel an annual memorial marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre — ostensibly over the fears of the spread of COVID-19 — saying it is part of efforts by Beijing to suppress information about the events that took place on June 4, 1989.

Beijing has largely suppressed information about the events that took place, where in 1989 Chinese officials met large-scale pro-Democracy protests in Tiananmen Square with overwhelming military force, shooting and killing unarmed protesters. The true number of dead is unknown, as China has refused to acknowledge the events.

Schiff, in his statement, called for Chinese accountability over the events of 1989 but warned that images of police brutality in the U.S. highlighted the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration’s support for Hong Kong.

“America has always lit the beacon for others to follow. But the United States cannot credibly serve as the preeminent example of democracy, freedom, and liberty for the world until it is accountable for building a more just society at home,” Schiff said.

“As we commemorate those who lost their lives at Tiananmen Square, let us honor their memories by building a more democratic and equitable society at home and abroad.”