TAIPEI, Taiwan—Recent remarks by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe while at a Singapore security summit has drawn ire in Taiwan.
While attending the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s biggest security summit, Wei said that it was the “correct” decision for Beijing to crack down on student pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square back in 1989.
Wei made the comment while responding to a question after giving his speech on June 2.
“Everybody is concerned about Tiananmen after 30 years,” Wei said, according to Reuters. “There was a conclusion to that incident. The [Chinese] government was decisive in stopping the turbulence.”
According to Wei, the student protests were a “political turmoil that the central government needed to quell, which was the correct policy.”
Wei added: “Due to this, China has enjoyed stability, and if you visit China you can understand that part of history.”
It is rare for Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials to publicly acknowledge the events of June 4, 1989, considering that the brutal suppression is still a taboo topic inside China.
He Cheng-hui, a researcher with the Taipei-based nonprofit Taiwan Association for Strategic Simulation, told the Taiwan bureau of The Epoch Times why he found Wei’s remarks very unusual.
The Taipei researcher explained that Wei, as a nation’s defense minister, should support the military in its actions against an outside force. Instead, Wei’s remarks pointed the “barrel of the gun” toward China’s own citizens, which according to He, is “strange and absurd.”
Chen Pokong, a Chinese writer and political commentator who currently lives in the United States, participated in the Tiananmen democracy movement. He was an organizer in Shanghai student demonstrations in 1986 and also took part in protests in Guangzhou City, southern China, in 1989.
While speaking to the Taiwan bureau of The Epoch Times, Chen said that Wei’s remarks indicated that the Chinese regime would continue to follow a path that takes its own citizens as enemies.
Wei continued his bellicose rhetoric while commenting on China’s neighbor, Taiwan.
“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs for national unity,” Wei said, according to Chinese state-run media Xinhua.
Wei added that foreign intervention in Taiwan is “doomed to failure,” while reiterating Beijing’s longstanding position of not renouncing the use of force to unite Taiwan with the mainland.
Wei’s Taiwan comments were likely directed at acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who a day earlier said that Washington would continue to supply Taiwan with military equipment, in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), for the island’s self-defense.
Beijing considers Taiwan as a renegade province, despite the latter being a de facto independent country with democratically elected officials and a separate constitution, military, and currency. It has consistently accused U.S. support for Taiwan as “foreign intervention.”
In response to Wei’s saber-rattling remarks, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense issued a statement on its website, stating that Wei’s remarks showed the “warmongering nature of the CCP,” which jeopardizes the peace and security of the Taiwan Strait and nearby regions.
The Ministry added that Taiwan is a “sovereign and independent country” and that the island would continue to “strengthen its defense capabilities, to safeguard the safety of the country, and to protect democracy and freedom from being violated.”
Reuters contributed to the report.