Washington -- Representative Chris Smith (Republican of New Jersey), chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, held a hearing December 18 to examine the facts surrounding the Tiananmen Square incident of June 4, 1989.
The hearing was prompted by a statement made by Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian during his recent visit to the United States that no civilians were killed at Tiananmen Square, according to a December 18 press release from Rep. Smith's office.
"We invited General Chi to come to the hearing and tell his side of the story," Smith said. "If General Chi could establish that the Tiananmen Square massacre was really a myth, those of us whose view of the Beijing government has been shaped by that massacre would have to admit we were wrong."
Following is the text of the press release:
"AGGRESSIVE APPEASEMENT" NOT THE WAY TO DEAL WITH CHINA
Smith hears accounts from dissidents and media at Tiananmen Square
Washington -- In direct response to denials made by a high ranking Chinese military official that no civilians were killed in Tiananmen Square in 1989, a House human rights and foreign affairs panel heard testimony from pro-democracy activists and eyewitnesses who described the events of June 4, 1989 as "The Tiananmen Square Massacre."
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, made it clear that "the civilized world was stunned last week by the statement of General Chi Haotian, the Defense Minister of the People's Republic of China, that nobody was killed at Tiananmen Square."
General Chi, who was the operational commander of the forces that attacked the pro-democracy demonstrators just seven years ago, was invited to the U.S. by our government, given full military honors, a nineteen-gun salute, visits to several military bases, a tour of the Sandia nuclear laboratory, and a personal meeting with President Clinton.
"The idea behind official visits like these is to foster mutual understanding," stated Rep. Smith at the Congressional hearing today. "If we are going to live in the same world with governments run by people like General Chi, the argument goes, we had better get to know each other. But, there is no denying that General Chi's remarkable statement about Tiananmen has helped the American people to understand what he and his government are really like.
"By telling us in what he called 'a responsible and serious manner' that 'not a single person lost his life in Tiananmen Square' -- by claiming that the People's Liberation army did nothing more violent than the 'pushing' of people the General called 'hooligans' -- he told us all we needed to know -- and that is that Chi can not be trusted.
"The purpose of this hearing is to make the process of getting acquainted a reciprocal one," said Rep. Smith. "We want General Chi to get to know the people of the United States. We want him to understand that in America, it matters whether you tell the truth. Because our political culture also values fairness -- because Americans believe in open and transparent procedures -- we invited General Chi to come to the hearing and tell his side of the story."
Xuecan Wu, a former editor at the People's Daily, was reporting in China during the Massacre. At the hearing today, the journalist stated that "at 9 PM, three armed personnel carriers charged down Chang'an Avenue, Chongwenmen N. Avenue, and other nearby streets, breaking the barricades erected by the city people, and crushing many bicycles that residents had left in the street. The armed personnel carriers drove very fast so that the city residents couldn't surround them and hold them back. They maintained a speed of over 80 kilometers. People who ran slowly were crushed and wounded or killed by the carriers."
"If General Chi could establish that the Tiananmen Square Massacre was really a myth, those of us whose view of the Beijing government has been shaped by that massacre would have to admit we were wrong," stated Chairman Smith. "We were also prepared to give General Chi an opportunity to substantiate his claim that China has sold no illegal weapons to Iran. Perhaps he could have shown us that there are no persecuted Christians in China, no ethnic and religious persecution in Tibet and Xinjiang, no forced abortions, no coerced sterilizations, no 'dying rooms' for unwanted children. These claims would have been contrary to all the evidence we have seen so far, but in America everyone is given a fair opportunity to be heard."