The Chinese embassy has said in a statement, cited by Reuters, that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on the anniversary were made “out of prejudice and arrogance” and interfered with China’s internal affairs.
On 4 June 1989, a student-led protest being held in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was dispersed by the army, leaving over 200 dead and 7,000 injured, according to official estimates. Human rights activists have claimed the death toll is in the thousands.
Pompeo earlier called on Beijing to mark the 4 June anniversary by releasing all prisoners allegedly jailed for fighting human rights abuses in China.
In particular, Pompeo said, cited by Luxembourg-based RTL news website, that “Chinese citizens have been subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang, where the Communist Party leadership is methodically attempting to strangle the Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith”, referring to the alleged mass detention of predominantly-Muslim Uighur people in labour camps.
The Chinese embassy has said in a statement that “China’s human rights are in the best period ever”.
China has faced international criticism for the situation in Xinjiang, specifically for the so-called re-education camps in the area, where it is thought that up to 1 million ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are being held under the pretext of fighting terrorism and religious extremism.
The Uyghurs tried to seek independence from China in the 1930s and 1940s. In recent years, the Chinese government has introduced stricter security measures in the region, justifying their actions by citing the fight against extremism.
Beijing has denied the existence of “re-education camps” on numerous occasions, insisting that the country is in full compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.