World News Brief, Thursday June 5

Tight security at Tiananmen Square on 25th anniversay of student-led demonstrations; South Korea holds elections; Libyan general survives assasination attempt; Ukraine to be focus of G7 discussions; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Tight Security Preempts Mourning on Tiananmen Anniversary

China deployed its security forces throughout Beijing to preempt any commemorations of pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square on Wednesday, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ruling Communist Party's suppression of the student-led demonstrations, in which hundreds were killed (AP). But while mainland China detained at least sixty-six people ahead of the anniversary, according to Amnesty International, and its censors scrubbed the Internet of mentions (Reuters), in Hong Kong tens of thousands of mourners attended a vigil (SCMP) even as the democracy movement there has splintered (NYT). Meanwhile, the White House called on Beijing to give an accounting of events in 1989, and UN rights chief Navi Pillay called on China to release detained activists (AFP).


"Even as China has transformed into a global power through its economic achievements and growing military prowess, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party's ambitions for legitimacy at home and abroad remain mostly unrealized. Within China, the party's mad dash to legitimize itself in the eyes of the Chinese people through anti-corruption efforts, self-criticism and attempts to 'learn from the people' all fall short in the face of the party's refusal to deal with its own history. How can the people's trust be granted to a leadership that cannot acknowledge past mistakes?" writes CFR's Elizabeth Economy in USA Today.

"Regarding political and civil rights, there is a bipolarity between theory and practice. Constitutional provisions and legislation are improving, as is some of the leaders' rhetoric regarding rights. But practice often blatantly disregards these legislated improvements, and there is a growing danger of police lawlessness. Although Xi and other leaders preach that no one is above the law, it is obvious that politics are still in command when it comes to investigating corruption," says CFR's Jerome A. Cohen.

"The problem facing the CCP now is that most of the factors that enabled it to survive since Tiananmen either have already disappeared or are headed in that direction. Indeed, for all practical purposes, pro-market reforms are dead. A kleptocracy of government officials, their families, and well-connected businessmen has colonized the Chinese state and is intent on blocking any reforms that might threaten their privileged status. Moreover, the CCP can no longer count on rising prosperity to sustain public support. Rampant corruption and rising inequality, together with obvious environmental decay, are causing ordinary Chinese – especially the middle class, which once had high hopes for reform – to become increasingly disillusioned," writes Minxin Pei for Project Syndicate.



South Korean Elections Referendum on Park

South Korea held tightly contested local elections Wednesday. The vote has been cast as a referendum on President Park Geun-hye's administration, which lost public confidence in the aftermath of an April ferry disaster (Yonhap).


Libyan general survives assasination attempt

Ukraine to be focus of  G7 discussions

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