The United States Wednesday called on China to
openly examine the 1989 military crackdown on protestors in Tiananmen Square and
provide a public accounting of those killed, missing or detained. In a statement
on Thursday's 20th anniversary of the events in Beijing, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said China should give human rights the same priority that it
does economic reform.
The U.S. statement contained sharper language than
those made on previous anniversaries of the Tiananmen events, and it was issued
in the name of Secretary of State Clinton, who drew criticism earlier year this
for seeming to downplay human rights on the eve of a visit to
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley read
the statement at the department's daily briefing on behalf of Clinton, who was
en route from Honduras to Egypt to attend President Obama's Cairo address on
It urged remembrance and reflection on what was
termed "the tragic loss of hundreds of innocent lives" in the military operation
against protesters, and said China should deal openly with what
"A China that has made enormous progress economically and is
emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership should examine openly
the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed,
detained or missing - both to learn and to heal. This anniversary provides an
opportunity for Chinese authorities to release from prison all those still
serving sentences in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989," he
The statement called on China to cease harassment of participants
in the protests and begin dialogue with family members of the victims. It said
China should honor the memory of that day by moving to give the rule of law,
protection of human rights and democratic development the same priority it has
given to economic reform.
Clinton came under criticism from human rights
groups and others in February, when on the eve of her first visit to China as
Secretary, she said U.S. advocacy of human rights with China cannot "interfere"
with U.S.-China dialogue on crucial issues including the global economic crisis,
climate change and regional security.
Under questioning here, Assistant
Secretary Crowley said there was no inconsistency between Wednesday's statement
and Clinton's earlier remarks and said human rights is a "fundamental element"
in a crowded U.S. agenda with China.
"It is paramount on our list. But I
think the Secretary is communicating that we're not going to take a
cookie-cutter approach to human rights. We will bring it up as appropriate with
every country with which we have those issues. But she is interested in making
sure that we address this in a way that is going to be most effective. And in
some cases that will be public, and some cases that will be private, and in some
cases that will be both," he said.
Crowley said under questioning the
Obama administration credits China with progress in human rights-related areas
since 1989 including combating corruption and protecting property rights, but
said political reform lags behind China's economic progress.
that Chinese censors have blocked some Internet services to prevent citizens
from discussing the Tiananmen anniversary, he lamented that many Chinese are
unfamiliar with the 1989 events and said the United States "would prefer to see
a China that's prepared to learn from history, rather than try to hide it."