British claim that 10,000 protesters died at Tiananmen Square ‘impossible’, says Chinese media

A Chinese state-controlled newspaper has said that claims that 10,000 people died during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre are “impossible”.

The statement came in an editorial from the Global Times, which is not a direct mouthpiece for China’s ruling communist party but is part of the government’s tightly-controlled state media system.

It decried “hype” from Western media following the release of diplomatic cables from Alan Donald, UK ambassador to China in June 1989. Mr Donald, citing a high-ranking anonymous Chinese government source, said that 10,000 pro-democracy protesters were killed in Beijing.

The envoy wrote the day after the June 4 massacre: “Students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes APCs [armoured personnel carriers] attacked. Students linked arms but were mown down including soldiers.

“APCs then ran over bodies time and time again and remains collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains. Four wounded girl students begged for their lives but were bayoneted.”

The Global Times called his comments “extremely unreliable”, adding that deaths were “rare, individual cases”. China’s “official account” of the death toll was fewer than 200, it said.

The editorial read: “It is impossible that tens of thousands of protesters were killed when a country was quelling an unarmed disturbance. It defies common sense. There has never been such a case in the world. The riot was put down by the army in a short time.”

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