A group of families demanding justice for the victims of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown has denounced Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for failing to launch political reforms, saying he was taking China “backwards toward Maoist orthodoxy.”
The Tiananmen Mothers activist group has long urged the leadership to open a dialogue and provide a reassessment of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, bloodily suppressed on June 4 that year by the government, which labeled it “counter-revolutionary.”
In an open letter released yesterday through New York-based Human Rights in China, the group said Xi “has mixed together the things that were most unpopular and most in need of repudiation” during the time of former Chinese leaders Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), the latter who oversaw the suppression of the protests.
“This has caused those individuals who originally harbored hopes in him in carrying out political reform to fall into sudden disappointment and despair,” the group said.
Xi became Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary in November and Chinese president in March, at a time of growing public pressure to launch long-stalled political reforms.
Some intellectuals had predicted that Xi would follow in the footsteps of his father, Xi Zhongxun (習仲勛), a reformist former Chinese vice premier and parliament vice chairman. Xi has tried to project a softer and more open image than his predecessor, former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
However, Xi’s government has clamped down on free expression on the Internet and detained anti-corruption activists, giving no sign the party will ever brook dissent to its rule.
The Tiananmen Mothers said they had not seen Xi “reflect upon or show remorse in the slightest for the sins committed during the three decades of Maoist communism.”
“What we see, precisely, are giant steps backwards towards Maoist orthodoxy,” they said.
The leader of the Tiananmen Mothers group, Ding Zilin (丁子霖), called on Xi to “be courageous enough to take up the responsibility of history and pay the debts left by his predecessors.”
“Everyone knows that a just resolution to the June 4 issue, a re-evaluation of June 4, will not happen by itself. It needs to be tied to progress in China’s political reform and democratization,” said Ding, 77.
Asked about the letter, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said China had long ago “reached a clear conclusion” about June 4.
The successes of the past two decades “shows that the path we have chosen serves the interest of the Chinese people,” he added.