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Premier Calls Crackdown in Beijing 'Legal, Correct'

June 30, 1989|From Associated Press

BEIJING — Premier Li Peng on Thursday dismissed international criticism that China's crackdown on the pro-democracy movement violated human rights, saying the suppression was carried out legally.

The government also denounced the European Community for condemning the crackdown on the student-led movement.

The Standing Committee of China's legislature, meanwhile, held a special meeting to endorse the Communist Party's suppression of dissent as "legal, correct and necessary."

Li said many nations have shown understanding for China's tough stance.

An 'Anti-China Current'

"At the same time, China has also noticed an anti-China adverse current. Under the banner of human rights, these people have made unwarranted accusations against China for its quelling of the counterrevolutionary rebellion and punishment of criminals according to law."

The official New China News Agency said Li made the comments in a meeting with Foreign Minister Carlos da Graca of Sao Tome and Principe, a tiny island nation off the west coast of Africa.

"Your visit is a support for China," Li told Graca, the highest-level foreign dignitary to visit China since soldiers moved into the center of Beijing the night of June 3-4 and crushed the movement for a freer society.

The troops, backed by tanks, fired on unarmed civilians and drove thousands of protesters from Tian An Men Square. The government says that about 200 people, half of them soldiers, were killed in the confrontation. Chinese witnesses and Western intelligence reports say that most of the dead were civilians and that the toll was as high as 3,000.

Authorities since have arrested more than 1,800 people and executed 27, and China has become increasingly isolated from the international community.

The 12-nation European Community on Tuesday condemned the "brutal repression taking place in China" and called for an embargo on arms sales. It also urged the World Bank to postpone new loans to Beijing.

The United States, Canada, Japan and Australia have taken similar steps.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Li Jinhua said the European Community has made "presumptuous accusations against China and unilaterally adopted decisions jeopardizing the bilateral relations."

"The Chinese government cannot but express deep regret over this unreasonable act of the European Council," she said.

Wan Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, opened the committee meeting by praising the party and government for taking "resolute measures to quell the counterrevolutionary rebellion.

"This decision was in line with the fundamental interests of people of all nationalities in China, and thus was legal, correct and necessary," the official news agency quoted him as telling the 133 members present.

The full Congress has about 3,000 members and meets once a year. It has limited powers and mainly serves as a forum for endorsing party policy.

The committee meeting was part of a nationwide campaign to unify China's 1.1 billion people behind the crackdown on the seven-week pro-democracy movement.

The committee canceled a June 20 session, at which it had planned to discuss political reforms demanded by students. The demands, including a freer press, were replaced on Thursday's agenda with a proposal to tighten control over people's rights to stage rallies and demonstrations.

"Stability represents China's highest interest," said Wan, once considered a moderate.

The Communist Party last week dismissed party chief Zhao Ziyang, also considered a moderate, because he had expressed sympathy for the student protesters demands.

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