America’s current tariff war with China may have overshadowed the memory of what happened 30 years ago this week at Beijing, but no means has everyone forgotten.

As many as 2,000 people were killed at Tiananmen Square when the Chinese army sent at least 300,000 soldiers to put down student-inspired demonstrations demanding the communist government enact democratic reforms.

More than 1 million people gathered at Tiananmen, and at least 10,000 were arrested — including the journalist Yu Dongyue, who spent 17 years in prison for throwing paint at a portrait of Mao Zedong. Dozens were executed.

One of the 20th century’s most iconic images shows a lone Chinese man standing in front of, and at least temporarily halting, a column of tanks the day after the Tiananmen Massacre. Nobody knows who he was, or what happened to either him or the tank crew that could have run over him, but didn’t.

Tiananmen remains a sore spot with China’s government, which has tried to suppress all mention or knowledge of the incident. 

CNN has reported that thousands of online posts were scrubbed in the days leading up to the June 4 anniversary of the massacre. Those who discuss Tiananmen can be arrested and imprisoned.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said with regard to Tiananmen that “The United States hoped that China’s integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society. Those hopes have been dashed. China’s one-party state tolerates no dissent and abuses human rights whenever it serves its interests.” China should “make a full, public accounting of those killed or missing to give comfort to the many victims of this dark chapter of history.” Amen to all of that.

China officially said his remarks were made “out of prejudice and arrogance ... lunatic ravings and babbling nonsense (that) will only end up in the trash can of history.” It said Pompeo’s words were “an affront to the Chinese people and a serious violation of international law.” This is the type of balderdash we have come to expect from so-called “people’s republics.”

Anybody who thinks the Chinese government’s brutally repressive mindset has moderated over the past three decades would be mistaken.

China has the world’s oldest continuous civilization — at least 4,000 years — largely because its leaders have always done what they deemed necessary to further their interests. 

For 36 years until 2015, in an attempt to limit population growth, China had a one-child policy that eventually was relaxed to allow about half of all families to have two children. It was enforced with forced contraception, sterilization and abortion.

China practices a curious, but successful mixture of capitalism and communism, rather than the pure brand of communism that has failed in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. 

It has the world’s second-largest economy, trailing only that of the United States. There can be little doubt that it wants to be No. 1 and will stop at virtually nothing to accomplish that.

Many products that once were made in America now bear the words “Made In China.” American flags and flag pins still are made in America, but many now come from China.

America’s longstanding trade deficit with China continues to increase, and many in our business and government communities say it’s because the Chinese underprice goods they sell to America and steal American technology.

This has led to the loss of countless jobs in the United States, including those in the paper industry. Verso’s Luke mill and others have been shut down at least in part because of inability to compete with cheaper, government-subsidized competition from mills in China and India.

President Donald Trump has been roundly criticized for launching a tariff war with China and other countries. He says their governmental subsidizing of industry threatens America’s economy.

He may be mistaken when it comes to European countries and other close trading partners like Canada and Mexico, but they’re not trying to take over the world’s economy the way China is.

The Associated Press has reported that America’s trading partners in Europe, Japan and elsewhere are also beginning to push back against China. (See: “Tariff war could threaten Beijing’s global ambitions,” May 13 Times-News, Page 1A.)

By the way: We continue to support the Chinese Partial Immersion Program in Allegany County Public Schools. As we have said before in this space, America cannot do without the rest of the world, and the rest of the world cannot do without America. Our economy and China’s economy are particularly intertwined and dependent upon each other.

America may have issues with China’s government, but so do many of the Chinese people, and there’s no reason we cannot get along with them.

The more we know about China and other nations that are potential friends, potential enemies or both, the better off we will be in dealing with them.

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