Public Papers

Statement on the Anniversary of the Suppression of the Demonstrations at Tiananmen Square


One year ago, as China commenced the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrators around Tiananmen Square, I deeply deplored the decision to use force. Two days later, on June 5, I again deplored the violence, emphasizing that the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square were advocating basic human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. These are freedoms that are enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution and the Chinese Constitution, and are goals we support around the world. America will always stand with those who seek greater freedom and democracy -- this is the strongly felt view of my administration, of our Congress, and most important, of the American people.

China's citizens, through massive demonstrations in scores of cities, were expressing the same yearnings and aspirations we have seen in so many places in the world during the last several years. The peoples of the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, Panama, Nicaragua, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Soviet Union, South Africa, and Burma have expressed those desires with their lives, their voices, and their votes. The institutions that each chooses to adopt will vary, but the values of democracy and freedom underlie the movements in all of them.

Transforming China -- with its 4,000 year-old civilization, its own distinct and extraordinary traditions, an undeveloped economy, and an historically authoritarian political system -- is a monumental task. China made great strides from 1978 to 1988 in the face of difficulties, and the dramatic growth in U.S.-China relations during those 10 years was testimony to that progress. I remain deeply concerned by the lack of respect for internationally recognized human rights in China today, and urge a rapid return to the most positive course set before Tiananmen occurred.

As China's people and leaders seek to recover from the wounds of Tiananmen, they should find inspiration in the modern, universal urge for freedom and democracy. At the same time, they will find guidance in those benevolent traditions of China which emphasize righteousness and justice.

The world watched with awe the restraint of the peaceful demonstrators in Tiananmen, the people of a great nation seeking freedom and economic modernization. The world will continue to watch in the years ahead with the hope that China will turn decisively away from repression and toward the path of reform. The American people and government -- who value good relations with the Chinese people and government -- stand ready to develop this relationship as China resumes that path.