Tiananmen massacre a warning for Taiwan of Beijing’s possible aggression: William Stanton

Former AIT Director William Stanton emphasized the importance of supporting Taiwan in the face of Chinese intimidation

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Former Director of the American Institute in Taiwan William Stanton

Former Director of the American Institute in Taiwan William Stanton (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Speaking on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, William Stanton, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Taiwanese people should see the violent crackdown on the student protests three decades ago as a warning that Beijing is capable of aggression against Taiwan.

During a brief interview on Monday (June 3) with Taiwan News, Stanton expressed concern that many people in Taiwan tend not to believe that Beijing would resort to the use of military force against the people in the island nation.

The Tiananmen Square massacre, in which the Chinese government “made war” against its unarmed civilians during their peaceful demonstrations should serve as the best reminder that throughout history “most of the violence has come from the Chinese leadership against the people of China”, said Stanton.

The former U.S. diplomat called for all nations to remember the June Fourth Incident, pay attention to the ongoing systematic oppression of the Uyghurs Muslim in Xinjiang, and support Taiwan in the face of potential aggression by the Chinese government.

Now a professor at National Taiwan University, Stanton bore witness of the peaceful demonstrations in Beijing in 1989 ahead of the massacre on June 4. The demonstrators, including students and workers, called for democracy and freedom of the speech.

The Chinese government, however, to this day continues to deny any wrongdoing of the military crackdown in the Tiananmen Square area. While addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s biggest defense conferences held last weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) called the democratic protests “political turmoil” and defended the military crackdown as “the correct policy” made by the Chinese government, at that time led by Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平).

In response to the reported shutting down of a large number of Twitter accounts belonging to Chinese dissidents or people critical of the Chinese government last week, Stanton said it would be “extremely unfortunate” to see American companies kowtow to foreign demands.

“It saddens me whenever I hear American companies are participating in any efforts in cooperation with the Chinese government to cut off freedom of expression,” added Stanton.

The social media company denied that the decision was made due to demands by the Chinese authorities. “We suspended a number of accounts this week” mostly for “their engaging in a mix of spamming, inauthentic behavior, & ban evasion,” said Twitter via its Public Policy account on Sunday (June 2).

“However, some of these were involved in commentary about China. These accounts were not mass reported by the Chinese authorities — this was a routine action on our part,” acknowledged Twitter through a separate tweet.