Trump: Tiananmen a ‘Riot,’ Put Down by ‘Strong Government”

Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was taken to task for comments he made in which he called the Tiananmen Massacre a “riot” and lauded the Chinese for showing “strong” leadership in 1989.

In the CNN Republican presidential debate yesterday, Jake Tapper asked Trump to respond to comments he made in 1990, shortly after the Chinese government rolled tanks into Beijing killing hundreds or even thousands of students and other protesters.

“The Chinese government almost blew it,” Trump had told Playboy magazine. “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

In the debate, Trump argued the he wasn’t endorsing the Chinese reaction in 1989.

“Strong doesn’t mean good,” he said. “I say it as the fact… I said, that is a strong powerful government that put it down. They kept down the riot, it was a horrible thing.”

Prior to June 4th, 1989, student-led protests were erupting at universities around the country. Representing a rising middle class, they were demanding more freedoms from the restrictive government including speech and access to education.

Thousands of students and other activists eventually took over Tiananmen Square prompting the government to mobilize the military which fired on civilians killing an untold number.

The military quickly removed the bodies and China has refused to give an official number of dead but unofficial estimates put it anywhere between several hundred and thousands.

The US officially condemned the violent crackdown along with world leaders around the world. Following his comments, Trump’s competitor, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, reflected that sentiment.

“The Chinese government butchered those kids,” he said. “And when that young man stood in front of that tank; we ought to build a statue of him over here when he faced down the Chinese government.”

Trump, however, continued to promote what he sees as “strong” leadership, repeating that he sees President Obama as “weak” in world affairs.

“I think Putin’s been a very strong leader for Russia, he’s been a lot stronger than our leader, that I can tell you,” Trump added. “That doesn’t mean I’m endorsing Putin.”

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