Australian Palmer United Party senator Dio Wang has come under fire for remarks he made defending the actions of the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The comments were part of an interview published by the Australian Financial Review just two days after the 26th anniversary of the violent military crackdown on protestors in the square.
According to the Chinese-born senator, “the government did the right thing”, and had the events not ensued the way they did, China “would have descended into hell”.
It’s estimated that hundreds to thousands of people were killed when Chinese troops opened fire on unarmed civilians outside and within Tiananmen Square between June 3 and June 4, although no official death toll has been released.
“Obviously when criminals and students get mixed up, you can’t really identify each one of them. So when there was force to be deployed you may get innocent casualties,” Wang reasoned.
Human rights groups have since slammed the politician for his comments, with Human Rights Watch Australia director Elain Pearson calling them “appalling” and “an affront to the families who are still seeking justice”.
“It is shocking to claim that violent repression of peaceful protests resulting in hundreds of deaths was ‘the right thing to do’,” Pearson said in a news.com.au article.
Karen Trentini, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International, was quoted in the same report saying that “In the 26 years since the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Chinese government has gone to great to lengths to suppress even the mention of the shocking and brutal crackdown on civilians,” adding that “China has a long way to go in addressing the injustices that happened, but the first step is to acknowledge the facts.”
News.com.au went on to say that the senator’s remarks are “completely at odds with Australia’s response to the massacre at the time,” referencing then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who famously wept during a press conference in reaction to the events.
Zhenya “Dio” Wang, aged 34, was born in Nanjing and emigrated to Australia in 2003. He was CEO of Australiasian Resources until June 2014, when he took on the role as sole remaining senator of PUP.
The PUP’s head honcho Clive Palmer has yet to respond to reporters who’ve reached out to him about Wang’s comments. Of course, Palmer himself was ensnared in some China-related controversy last year, when he made remarks about “Chinese mongrels” who “shoot their own people” during a televised tirade.
“We’ve had three judgments in the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Western Australia and an arbitration against these Chinese mongrels – I’m saying that because they’re Communist, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country…And we’re not going to let them,” he said.
Palmer later apologized and clarified that he wasn’t talking about the Chinese government as a whole, but rather a Chinese state-owned company he was in a legal dispute with and had accused of “taking Australian resources and not paying”.