News / Asia

US Urges China to Free Critics Detained Before Tiananmen Anniversary

Chinese students link arms in solidarity at dawn in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 22, 1989.
Chinese students link arms in solidarity at dawn in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 22, 1989.
VOA News
The United States is urging China to free government critics detained or placed under house arrest in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf Tuesday said China is a growing country and should allow for more political discussion, especially before such a historical anniversary as the June 4 Tiananmen Square incident.
Dozens of activists, journalists and lawyers were detained or placed under house arrest ahead of the anniversary of China's violent suppression of pro-democracy protests in 1989.
On Tuesday, China defended its detention of the critics as "lawful."
When asked why China was doing so, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his country is acting according to the law.
"In China, there are only law breakers - there are no so-called dissidents. The relevant departments of the Chinese government act according to the law. China's legal authority should be respected," said Hong.
  • Remember June Fourth commemoration speaker Wang Dan, one of the most prominent of the Tiananmen Square student leaders, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth commemoration host Bei Ming, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth commemoration speaker Makino Seishu, former Japanese congressman and Chairman of Global Support for China and Asia democratization, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth memorial concert sung by Diva Damian Yumei, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth memorial prayer delivered by Pastor Gordon J. Schultz, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth commemoration speaker Yang Jianli, founder of human rights organization Initiatives for China, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth memorial prayer given by Rabbi Charles Feinberg, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014.
  • Remember June Fourth vigil calling for the release of political dissidents, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth memorial site No. 3, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth memorial site No. 1, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth memorial site No. 2, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (Zhi Yuan/VOA)
  • Remember June Fourth commemoration speaker, Chen Qinglin, former Tiananmen Square student leader, Washington, DC, June 1, 2014. (ZhiYuan/VOA)
Harsher than usual

It has become an annual tradition for Beijing to round up activists ahead of the sensitive anniversary, but this year the crackdown has been harsher than usual.
The latest to be held is Chinese-born Australian artist Guo Jian, who was taken away by police Sunday night, just after the Financial Times published an interview with him.
China does not allow public discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, in which many hundreds, possibly even thousands, of protesters were killed by Chinese soldiers.
An official death toll has never been released.
Hong, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said China "long ago reached a conclusion" about the incident.

Security was tighter than usual in Beijing on the eve of the anniversary Tuesday, with expanded police patrols and security checkpoints throughout the city.

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Comment Sorting
by: john from: san francisco, ca usa
June 04, 2014 2:08 PM
China's June 4th amnesia makes Tiananmen all the more compelling as a symbol of their Big Brotherly love. With "May 35," "Big Yellow Duck" and the like now taboo in China, we offer this tribute to 25 years of creative resistance in Beijing and beyond:

by: Young thing from: nowhere
June 03, 2014 9:58 PM
Dictatorship + Super Power = Fascism

Where people can determine their fate
In Response

by: Young thing from: nowhere
June 03, 2014 11:08 PM
Dictatorship + Super Power = Fascism

Where people CANNOT determine their fate. :P

by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
June 03, 2014 3:25 PM
China clamps down on Google ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Google has run afoul of the Chinese government once again.

Authorities in Beijing restricted access to Google (GOOGL) services this week, according to Chinese censorship watchdog, rendering the search engine as well as products like Gmail and Google Calendar inaccessible to millions of Internet users.

"We've checked extensively and there are no technical problems on our side," a Google spokeswoman said.

The move came ahead of the 25th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown, discussion of which is still strictly censored by the Chinese government.

Google isn't completely blocked in China: Some Chinese residents have still been able to reach Google services, according to the company's public data, but total traffic has dropped in recent days.

Related: Banned! 7 things you won't find in China

Services like Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Google-owned YouTube, meanwhile, have long been completely blocked by the government.

Google has tangled with Beijing on a number of occasions over censorship issues. The site and all its major services were blocked back in 2012 as the Communist Party met for its once-a-decade gathering to appoint new leaders.

In January 2010, Google threatened to shut down its Chinese search site at, citing censorship rules and the discovery of a cyber attack on its network infrastructure. Two months later, the company said it would stop censoring searches on and automatically redirect Chinese users to its uncensored Hong Kong site.

The Hong Kong site and other international Google portals have been restricted in China during this latest disruption, GreatFire said.

by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 03, 2014 12:02 PM
The Chinese Communist Party is trying to wipe out a page of Chinese history b/c they are embarrassed and afraid. The CCP doesn't want its people knowing what really happened on 6/4/89 when thousands of PLA troops attacked & killed unarmed Chinese demonstrators. The CCP is afraid of the truth so the censor the Internet & media and block any information to its people about the Tiananmen Massacre. That is why VOA is blocked in China as well as any website or news story that does not comport w/ the Party line on 6/4/89. But many Chinese people were there and they remember & will never forget the atrocities the PLA & the CCP committed that day against the Chinese people. Democracy for China now!

by: jonathan huang from: canada
June 03, 2014 10:06 AM
VOA should stop telling lies! I was in China when this tiananmen incident happened. at that time I was a big fan of VOA, and I eagered to know outside. I was listening to VOA every night of course, I was also watching CCTV, since CCTV was supporting the students since the beginning. I still support those students who were asking for a better china. Me myself was a student at that time. But the truce is that, we students were naive, we were used by some evil groups which only want china weak. there were thugs mixed in students, they started to kill PLA soldiers. thugs hung soldiers, burned their bodies, cut their bodies up.

it was not a peaceful demonstration anymore, it became a riot. the communist did everything it should to protect the security of majority by cracking it down.
I am so glad the communist made the right decision! so china was not like what happens in Ukraine now. China is stable, growing fast under the lead of the communist! I hope the communist can keep the good job for another 30 years until realize our chinese dream! we, the oversea chinese will always support china. I hope more and more chinese will come study in canada, its a beautiful country and ppl are friendly to chinese. most important canada government is not like american government which is messing up the whole world, brings chaos everywhere. canada government is trying to cooperate with china to build a positive relationship. I, a canadian chinese will do my best to contribute to both countries! and as a connection to bring these two beautiful countries closer!
In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 03, 2014 11:59 AM
Comrade Huang is just another CCP cadre or 50 Cent member paid to present the CCP's views on China, human rights, Tibet, Taiwan & East Turkestan (Xinjiang). His views are nearly 100% consistent w/ the Central Govt Party line. The CCP has no credibility as it tries to wipe out any mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre and neither do its Internet propaganda agents.
In Response

by: hai lua from: USA
June 03, 2014 11:50 AM
jonathan huang, why your are not in China? Why you are in Canada? The best way to express your self is stay in China.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 03, 2014 11:44 AM
IF there is peace in China now, the communist crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests was the right thing to do? ---

IF the US, EU, and other NATO countries had been allowed to interfere in the politics and protests in Tiananmen Square, the violence, deaths, destruction and war would still be going on, like in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and now Ukraine?
In Response

by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
June 03, 2014 11:31 AM
Hi! Jonathan,

If your Communist China government is so great, why do you live and study over there but came to Canada? Don't forgot Canada government is supporting Ukraine sovereignty not like China government supports Russian invasion. Please do not compare Canada government to your lovely China government. It looks like comparing Jesus to Satan. Also please do not steal

Canada technology to send back to China. It is a crime in Canada. If you want better China, remove your communist government. You see Taiwan, small island but has strong economic and innovations. Why? Because of democracy. Why Chinese people oversea including Hong Kong can demonstrations but not in China? Show me one example of innovation came from China? I seldom agree with Biden on his liberal foreign policy but must agree with his comment.

by: Shintaro Sakamoto from: Japan
June 03, 2014 8:02 AM
Chinese people with a lot of good sense, in a league of their own, bring CCP’s totalitarian system to an end.

by: Rick from: Durham, North Carolina
June 03, 2014 7:37 AM
The Chinese people need to "crackback" on their oligarchic government that so enjoys cracking down on its people.

by: Hoa Minh Truong from: western Australia
June 03, 2014 7:14 AM
The China communist regime couldn't escape the critics of Tiananmen square's massacre. It is the most bloodshed event in the world, also it is the black spot eve in Chinese history. The China great communist founder Mao Ste Tung who killed 65 million people, then he was promoted as angel from its party;

Moreover, the Maoist movement has raised the crime more than Al Qaeda, the Maoist spread world wide at Philippine, India, Nepal, south America...however the democratic countries, mostly the powerful nations ignore the crimes of them, nevertheless, when the democratic leaders visit Beijing, they often pay the respect at Mao's portrait, indeed Mao is the number one massacre on 20th century ( The media Polska in Poland on May 3, 2013 released the information about 13 massacre)

by: Schneider from: B.R.Deutschland
June 03, 2014 4:23 AM
What? The current wave of detentions is harsher than in recent years? Do PRC leaders still repressing their nationals concerning Tienanmen incident? Do Chinese contributors such as Jonathan Huang from Canada and the like still support PRC? Poor Chinese people!
In Response

by: Anonymous from: Alpha Centari
June 04, 2014 12:36 AM
The thing about the Internets is that you will never know who or where the commenter is. I could be a man. I could be a woman. I could even be a horse.

Only the CCP and those who get paid by the CCP would openly say good things about the CCP. Like the rest of us, those who have no place in politics don't care as long as we get fed, feel safe, and have an opportunity to achieve what we desire.
In Response

by: russel from: China
June 03, 2014 11:02 PM
yeah, some watchdogs are definitely poor.
In Response

by: haha from: China
June 03, 2014 9:45 PM
POOR??? I'm the people living in China since I was born. I love my country, I support the Chinese communist. Because they changed our life. People in China have a nice live. I don't understand why you say China is not great ,because our country become better, you are jealous of us? you really lived in China? You really understand what Chinese citizen think? How poor you are!
In Response

by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
June 03, 2014 1:07 PM
Dear Schneider,

Jonathan Huang is just a CCP agent. He was sent to oversea for spying.

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