Amidst all the febrile swirl of UK politics, another anniversary passed this week: twenty years since the Chinese Government brutally ended the student-led protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. At first the regime appeared incapable of summoning soldiers willing to do the deed; the bloody aftermath showed that those eventually commanded to end the occupation had no problem with their orders, nor even any consideration for human life.
There have been no commemorations in Beijing: the official line is that it didn’t happen. The nearest place to mark the deed has been Hong Kong. The Chinese live under a totalitarian Government; the idea of democracy does not enter. Yet this behaviour is tolerated by the West, if only implicitly: we trade with China, their thrift buys part of our debt. Thus the impossibility of so-called “ethical foreign policy”.
China won’t change its behaviour any time soon, let alone its political system. And we in the West won’t be in a hurry to force the issue.