China stepped up security around Tiananmen Square in central Beijing on Tuesday, as its embassy in Washington criticized the top US diplomat for his statement on its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests at the square 30 years ago. Extra checkpoints and street closures greeted tourists who showed up before 5am to watch the daily flag-raising ceremony at the square. The tight security served as a reminder of the government's attempts to quash any memories of the crackdown on the night of June 3-4, 1989, that is believed to have killed hundreds and possibly thousands of people, the AP reports. For many Chinese, the 30th anniversary of the crackdown will pass like any other day. Any commemoration of the event is not allowed in mainland China, and the government has blocked access to information about it on the Internet.
Analysts say the crackdown set the ruling Communist Party on a path of repression and control that continues to this day. One of the few activists the AP was able to reach, Beijing-based Hu Jia, said he had been taken by security agents to the coastal city of Qinghuangdao on May 30. Chinese authorities routinely take known dissidents away on what are euphemistically called "vacations" or otherwise silence them during sensitive political times. "This is a reflection of their fears, their terror, not ours," Hu says. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement Monday saluting what he called the "heroes of the Chinese people who bravely stood up ... to demand their rights." A post on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Washington said that Pompeo's statement "grossly intervenes in China's internal affairs."
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