Xi silences dissent for anniversary of Tiananmen square massacre
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.