Trump Slammed for Calling Tiananmen a 'Riot'
During debate, he echoed Communist Party's line on massacre
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2016 6:13 AM CST
The bodies of dead civilians lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in this June 4, 1989 photo.    (AP Photo/File)
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(Newser) – Add pro-democracy Chinese groups to the list of people Donald Trump has offended. During Thursday night's GOP debate, the candidate was asked to defend remarks he made to Playboy in 1990, when he discussed China's brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. "They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength," he said at the time. "That shows you the power of strength." During the debate, he said he wasn't endorsing the crackdown, but was describing how a "strong, powerful government" kept down the "riot," which the Washington Post notes is the Chinese government's way of describing the massacre of hundreds, possibly thousands, of pro-democracy demonstrators.

"Counter-revolutionary riot" was the Communist Party's official verdict on the Tiananmen protest and crackdown, mentions of which are heavily censored in mainland China to this day, the Hong Kong Free Press notes. "Do I think he intentionally aped Beijing's description? No. It's very revealing, however," tweeted Trump critic and former Beijing professor Patrick Chovanec, per the New York Times. The Guardian also rounds up some quick condemnation appearing on social media. ("Unbelievable," reads one tweet.) John Kasich, meanwhile, gave what the Guardian describes as a more "morally clear" response. "I think that the Chinese government butchered those kids, and when that young man stood in front of that tank, we ought to build a statue of him over here," he said. (Here are some of the debate's best lines.)