Hong Kong response 'won't repeat' Tiananmen: Chinese state media

Hong Kong response 'won't repeat' Tiananmen: Chinese state media

Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters during a mass demonstrati
Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition Bill protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 13, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

BEIJING: Chinese state media vowed on Friday (Aug 16) that there "won't be a repeat" of the Tiananmen Square incident if Beijing moves to quash Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.

In a rare reference to the bloody incident - which is usually taboo in mainland China - the Global Times newspaper insisted the country had more sophisticated methods than those it employed 30 years ago to crush protests in the capital.

READ: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

"The incident in Hong Kong won't be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989," it wrote in an editorial.

"China is much stronger and more mature, and its ability to manage complex situations has been greatly enhanced."

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Hong Kong has endured 10 weeks of civil unrest, which have morphed from opposition to a hated extradition Bill into a wider, and sometimes violent, call for more rights.

An intensifying drumbeat of propaganda and strident warnings have sparked fears that Beijing might look to intervene - possibly militarily - in the semi-autonomous city.

READ: Singaporeans advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong: MFA

Images of flag-waving military personnel and armoured vehicles in the border city of Shenzhen this week added to those fears, with international commentators invoking the spectre of the Jun 4, 1989 Tiananmen incident.

Weeks of student-led protests in the Beijing square were ended when the military rolled in with tanks. Images of the operation were beamed around the world.

Estimates on the death toll range from hundreds to thousands, although there is no official figure.

The brutal assault resulted in two years of economic near-stagnation as the country became an international pariah.

Discussion of what is euphemistically referred to as the "June 4th incident" is heavily censored in China, and few Chinese are familiar with the photos that are so well known around the world.

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US National Security Advisor John Bolton warned China Thursday against creating a "new" Tiananmen Square in its response to the protests in Hong Kong.

Beijing has repeatedly blamed "foreign forces" for stirring up trouble in the city, which was handed back from Britain in 1997, and the Global Times said Friday that the US would "not be able to intimidate China by using the turmoil 30 years ago".

Source: AFP/ga