Xi si­lences dis­sent for an­niver­sary of Tianan­men square mas­sacre

Nelson Mail - - World -

China has launched a sweep­ing crack­down on so­cial me­dia and in­ter­net use as it pre­pares for the 30th an­niver­sary in June of the bloody sup­pres­sion of stu­dent-led protests in Tianan­men Square.

The in­ter­net cen­sor has un­veiled a six-month cam­paign against on­line ‘‘neg­a­tive and harm­ful in­for­ma­tion’’ even though the highly sen­si­tive mile­stone is al­ready banned from men­tion by name.

The gov­ern­ment cen­sors the in­ter­net widely through a ‘‘Great Fire­wall’’ of reg­u­la­tion and has re­cently started prose­cut­ing those who use proxy servers, or vir­tual pri­vate net­works, to ac­cess banned sites such as Face­book and Google.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has a blan­ket pol­icy of of­fi­cial am­ne­sia about the events of 1989, which marked the great­est chal­lenge to the Com­mu­nist Party dur­ing its seven decades in power.

Mas­sive democ­racy protests in Bei­jing came to a bloody con­clu­sion when troops and tanks were de­ployed on June 4, 1989. The next day, a lone man was filmed stand­ing in front of a col­umn of tanks in an in­deli­ble im­age of de­fi­ance.

Com­mem­o­ra­tions are sched­uled in the Chi­nese ter­ri­tory of Hong Kong, with fall-back plans to stage some events in Tai­wan.

This year also marks the 60th an­niver­sary in March of the crush­ing of the 1959 Ti­bet upris­ing and the flight into ex­ile in In­dia of the Dalai Lama, the spir­i­tual leader.

For Xi, the only Tianan­men Square mile­stone that mat­ters is the 70th an­niver­sary in Oc­to­ber of the procla­ma­tion there by Mao Tse-tung of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China.

The square, which dates back to the Qing dy­nasty in the 1600s, is lined by sym­bols of party rule, in­clud­ing the Great Hall of the Peo­ple and Mao’s mau­soleum.

The pres­i­dent, who is known for hav­ing a pen­chant for pomp and pageantry, kicked off the new year with or­ders to his mil­i­tary chiefs to pull out all the stops for the 70th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions.

Xi will over­see a mas­sive mil­i­tary pa­rade in a show of force that could in­clude the first pub­lic ap­pear­ance of the Dongfeng-41 in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile, re­port­edly ca­pa­ble of strik­ing the whole of Amer­ica.

The Global Times news­pa­per, which strikes a fiercely na­tion­al­ist tone, de­scribed the mis­sile as ‘‘Chi­nese de­ter­rence’s trump card’’ – a barely veiled dig at Don­ald Trump at a time of deep ten­sions with Amer­ica over the trade war and the South China Sea.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has a blan­ket pol­icy of of­fi­cial am­ne­sia about the Tianan­men Square mas­sacre.

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