• Reuters


The White House, in a statement on the 31st anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown, urged Beijing on Thursday to respect human rights, fulfill its commitments on Hong Kong and end persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s slaughter of unarmed Chinese civilians was a tragedy that will not be forgotten,” the White House said.

It urged the Chinese government to fulfill its commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Sino-British Joint Declaration governing Hong Kong’s status, and to “uphold the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Chinese citizens under China’s constitution, and to end the systematic persecution of millions of ethnic and religious minorities.”

The anniversary of China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists coincides with widespread protests across the United States against racism and police brutality touched off by the killing of a black man while in custody of white Minneapolis police officers.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to militarize the response to the mass demonstrations, saying he could deploy the military in states that fail to crack down on the sometimes violent protests.

“The American people stand together with all Chinese citizens in their pursuit of fundamental rights, including the right to accountable and representative governance and freedom of speech, assembly, and religious belief,” the White House said.

Also Thursday, a U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries said.

China, which considers Taiwan its territory, has been angered by the Trump administration’s stepped-up support for the self-ruled, democratic island, such as more arms sales and nearby U.S. patrols.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Friday the U.S. warship had transited the narrow Taiwan Strait that separates the island from the mainland, heading south.

Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the ship, which it described as being on an “ordinary mission,” the ministry added, without providing further details.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet, in a post on its Facebook page, named the ship as the USS Russell, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The United States has in recent months stepped up its sailings through the Taiwan Strait, to China’s anger, adding to tensions over everything from Beijing’s response to the coronavirus pandemic to trade and human rights.

Public events took place in both Taiwan and Chinese-ruled Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 1989 Tiananmen anniversary.

Police pepper-sprayed some Hong Kong protesters on Thursday who defied a ban to stage candlelight rallies in memory of the crackdown, accusing Beijing of stifling their freedoms.

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