Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush played a role in supporting the Chinese Communist regime after the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. The massacre sparked international outcry and the United States approved economic sanctions on China. However, Bush sent a secret delegation to China which aimed at normalizing relations between Washington and Beijing.
Bush, 94, passed away on Nov. 30 after several years of failing health. The Voice of America reported that the Chinese media expressed their affection for the 41st president of the United States and called him “an old friend of the Chinese people.”
The bloody crackdown on pro-democracy Chinese student protesters on June 4, 1989, remains one of the most censored political taboos in China today. The number of casualties has never been fully disclosed, though estimates by human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand. Tens of thousands more were arrested and imprisoned.
After the shocking massacre, international communities implemented sanctions against China. On June 28, 1989, Washington approved tough economic sanctions against China and suspended talks and funds for trade and banned shipment of police equipment, reported American political journalism, Politico, in June 2011.
However, less than one month after the bloody crackdown on student protesters, Bush sent a secret mission to China. He dispatched National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger to Beijing over the July 4 weekend, reported The Washington Post in Dec. 1989.
Bush justified his secret mission by saying that China “is a billion-plus people.” “They have a strategic position in the world that is important to us … I do not want to isolate the Chinese people,” The New York Times reported in Dec. 1989. The “people” he mentioned referred to the state or the Communist leaders in Beijing, said the report.
The report said Bush’s China mission was about strategic interests—it betrayed American and Western values and also betrayed the student demonstrators who sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.
Hong Kong media Apple Daily reported that Bush did not understand the tyrannical nature of the Chinese Communist Party in contemporary politics and therefore attached great importance to personal relations with high-ranking Party officials, especially its former leader Deng Xiaoping. Bush almost visited China every year after leaving office in 1993, and four times in 1996, said the report.
Sheng Xue, a Canadian democracy activist, said in a seminar in New York in 2009, “The U.S. helped the CCP break through the dilemma after the Tiananmen massacre,” reported Chinese-language Radio France Internationale (RFI) in May 2011.
Sheng said that the attitude of the Bush administration in some ways supported former CCP leader Deng Xiaoping’s two-handed policy—economic reforms and political repression—after the June 4 massacre.
The RFI report cited from “Tenth of Diplomacy”—written by Qian Qichen, the former foreign minister of the CCP—that Deng told Scowcroft during his visit to China that the CCP had been fighting for 25 years and was not afraid of anyone. Deng said that since Washington was responsible for the economic sanctions against China, it could also remove the sanctions—depending on its “words and deeds.”
When Scowcroft returned to the U.S., Bush wrote a letter thanking Deng for receiving his delegation and told him how the United States and Japan removed the words condemning China from the communique at the G-7 summit. But Deng was not satisfied. In August, he wrote back to Bush, saying that the U.S. was responsible for lifting the sanctions.
In sending a secret mission to China, Bush only wanted to maintain strategic ties between Washington and Beijing and turned a blind eye to human rights abuses. The mission ignored the Chinese regime’s tyranny and oppression of its own people, and betrayed freedom and democracy—values that student demonstrators defended and risked their lives for at Tiananmen Square in June 1989.
Epoch Times staff Paul Huang contributed to this report.