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International relations

Pompeo blasts China over human rights on Tiananmen anniversary

Chinese Embassy in US accuses secretary of 'prejudice and arrogance'

Paramilitary police change guard at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. China has ramped up surveillance ahead of the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on protests there.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo roundly condemned the Chinese government Monday ahead of the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests, saying the Communist Party-ruled state "tolerates no dissent and abuses human rights whenever it serves its interests."

In the decades since the violent suppression of protests in Beijing on June 4, 1989, "the United States hoped that China's integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society," Pompeo said in a statement. "Those hopes have been dashed."

The tone of the statement was notably harsher than last year's, which urged Beijing to "respect the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens." The shift reflects the Trump administration's increasingly hard line on China as the trade war escalates.

This year, Pompeo also denounced mass detentions targeting the Uighur Muslim minority and the "powerful surveillance state" being built by Beijing.

Everyday Chinese "continue to seek to exercise their human rights, organize independent unions, pursue justice through the legal system, and simply express their views, for which many are punished, jailed, and even tortured," his statement read.

The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. expressed "strong dissatisfaction" on Tuesday over the statement. The embassy said Pompeo's comments were made "out of prejudice and arrogance" and amounted to meddling in China's internal affairs, adding, "China's human rights are in the best period ever."

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence plans to criticize China's human rights record in a speech this month around the anniversary of the crackdown, American business news outlet CNBC reported last week. The move will likely further exacerbate bilateral tensions.

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