Russia is facing a similar diplomatic situation to that of China in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstration crackdown, the Russian embassy of China said in a commentary on its website on Thursday.
The story posted on the Russian embassy of China’s Chinese-language website and microblog was commenting on the latest round of military sanctions by the West on Russia over its controversial move to annex Crimea from the Ukraine.
“What is happening in Russia at present is similar to the situation facing China after the 1989 crisis,” the commentary said. “At the time, the United States and some European countries boycotted China over weapons exports and the exchange of military technology under the pretext of human rights violations,” read the article first published by the Russian official broadcaster, the Voice of Russia.
The crisis referred to, was the months-long pro-democracy protests that saw hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters gather at Tiananmen Square in central Beijing in the summer of 1989. The stand-off was eventually violently crushed by Chinese military forces, sparking fierce denunciation from around the world, and the West in particular.
Within days, the United States and a number of major European countries introduced a number of sanctions against China, including the suspension of all military collaboration and the trade in arms.
The commentary called on Russia and China to expand the two countries’ military collaboration in areas where they can complement each other, “so that they can control the damage from the sanctions by western nations that will arrive soon-or-later.”
The crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests has since remained a taboo subject for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which strictly prohibits any form of public discussion in public spaces. Using sophisticated online censorship methods, the government filters and deletes any information relating to the 1989 crackdown found in China’s cyberspace.
For instance, searching terms like “Tiananmen Square incident” on Sina Weibo – the microblog where the Russian embassy posted their story – return a notification that reads “search results are not displayed according to relevant regulations and policies.”
“The Chinese government will not respond to the comparison. [It will] either play down the subject, or simply evade it,” Wang Chong, a researcher of Beijing-based independent think tank Charhar Institute, told the South China Morning Post on Thursday.
Wang said China should retain its diplomatic balance between Russia and the US throughout the Crimea crisis, instead of seeking alliance with Russia to counter the US. “It’s not a right time to strengthen ties with Russia. Rather it should maximise its benefits from this diplomatic wrestle.”
Since the Crimea Crisis has been emerging in the past month, China has maintained a vague diplomatic position on the issue.
Its Foreign Ministry spokesman in the beginning of the month said China upholds the principle of non-interference in a country’s internal affairs and that it respects Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
But later during a vote-out of United Nations Security Council’s resolution that condemning Crimea’s referendum, China abstained instead of siding with Russia, its close ally during UNSC vote out.