(Adds comment from Australian government, byline)
By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING, June 3 China defended the bloody 1989
crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's
Tiananmen Square on Tuesday, the eve of the 25th anniversary,
saying it had chosen the correct path for the sake of the
For the ruling Communist Party, the 1989 demonstrations that
clogged Tiananmen Square in Beijing and spread to other cities
remain taboo after the government termed the protests
The anniversary of the date on which troops shot their way
into central Beijing in 1989 has never been publicly marked in
mainland China, though every year there are commemorations in
Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, as well as in
self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
The government has never released a death toll for the
crackdown, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses
range from several hundred to several thousand.
"The Chinese government long ago reached a conclusion about
the political turmoil at the end of the 1980s," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
"In the last three decades and more of reform and opening
up, China's enormous achievements in social and economic
development have received worldwide attention. The building of
democracy and the rule of law have continued to be perfected,"
"It can be said that the road to socialism with Chinese
characteristics which we follow today accords with China's
national condition and the basic interests of the vast majority
of China's people, which is the aspiration of all China's
The foreign ministry is typically the only government
department which will regularly answer questions from foreign
reporters, especially on sensitive topics.
The run-up to the anniversary has been marked by detentions,
increased security in Beijing and tighter controls on the
Internet, including disruption of Google services.
Hong would not comment on why Google was being targeted,
saying only that the government "manages the Internet in
accordance with the law".
Authorities detained several activists last month after
attending a meeting about the protests, including prominent
rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, prompting concern in the United
States and Europe.
SPOKESMAN: NO DISSIDENTS, ONLY LAW BREAKERS
Hong said China had no such thing as dissidents.
"In China there are only law breakers -- there are no
Hong also would not comment on the reported detention in
Beijing over the weekend of Chinese-born Australian artist Guo
Jian, a former Chinese soldier who last week gave an interview
to the Financial Times about the crackdown.
"I don't understand the details of the situation, but I want
to point out that the relevant departments of the Chinese
government consistently act in accordance with the law," he
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said
in a statement that their embassy in Beijing was in contact with
the Chinese government about Guo's case and was requesting
access to him.
"Initial advice from Chinese authorities is that Mr Guo was
detained on a visa-related matter. When consular officials have
the opportunity to visit Mr Guo, they will seek to confirm the
nature of his detention, check on his welfare and extend to him
all appropriate consular assistance," it said.
"We hope that this consular visit will take place in coming
days," the department said, adding that Australian Foreign
Minister Julie Bishop has said that the government will do what
it can to secure his release.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Sui-Lee
Wee, and Lincoln Feast in SYDNEY; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ron