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June 04, 2024

Rep. Schiff Releases Statement on 35th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre, Introduces Resolution Condemning Hong Kong’s Article 23

Washington, D.C.— Today Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) released the following statement to commemorate 35 years since the massacre of pro-democracy protestors at Tiananmen Square by the Chinese Communist Party.

To honor the courage of those who stood up for democracy 35 years ago, Schiff also led a bipartisan resolution with Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) which condemned the adoption of Hong Kong’s new Article 23 law that gives the government broad powers to prosecute those it considers dissidents.

The statement below was also submitted for the Congressional Record.

On June 4, we commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, an event that serves as a stark reminder of the brutality of authoritarianism and its tragic human costs.

Thirty-five years ago in 1989, in the heart of Beijing, the world witnessed a military crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government's violent suppression of student-led demonstrations shook the world's conscience, leaving a permanent scar on the collective memory of humanity and reminding us of the lengths to which authoritarian regimes will go to maintain their grip on power. There are credible estimates that more than 200,000 Chinese army soldiers killed nearly 1,000 people and wounded many thousands more.

In the decades since the massacre, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has relentlessly pursued its agenda of control and repression, which has stifled dissent and trampled on the fundamental rights of its citizens. Freedom of speech, assembly, and religion remain severely curtailed, with censorship and surveillance pervasive throughout the country. Dissidents, human rights activists, and religious minorities continue to face persecution, imprisonment, and even disappearance simply for expressing their beliefs or advocating for change.

The CCP continues its efforts to control the political discourse across the entire country and in every territory under its control. The crackdown in Hong Kong is one such example. The imposition of the draconian National Security Law in 2020 marked a turning point in the erosion of the city's autonomy and freedoms. Pro-democracy activists, journalists, and political figures have been arrested, charged, and silenced under the guise of national security, while Beijing tightens its grip on the former British colony. The passage of the Article 23 legislation, which further restricts basic freedoms of speech and assembly, will continue the erosion of the "one country, two systems" principle, undermining the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong and threatening the stability and prosperity of the entire region. For this reason, I, along with Congressman Gus Bilirakis, introduced a House Resolution that condemns the promulgation of the new Article 23 legislation and calls on other members of the international community to similarly condemn the process of undermining freedoms in Hong Kong.

While the total number of lives impacted by China’s suppression of basic freedoms may never be fully known, I am honored to serve as an advocate for one person who has witnessed firsthand the brutality of the regime. Mr. Ding Jiaxi, a prominent human rights lawyer and democracy advocate was wrongfully imprisoned in 2019 for his peaceful activism and charged for the crime of “subversion of state power.” Mr. Ding's courageous efforts to defend the rights of marginalized communities and promote greater government accountability made him a target of the regime's ruthless crackdown on dissent. His arbitrary detention, which included solitary confinement and physical abuse, serves as a stark reminder of the grave risks faced by those who dare to challenge the authoritarian rule of the CCP. Together with the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project, I am committed to advocating for his release and reunion with his family.

As we remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre and honor their memory, we must reaffirm our commitment to the values of democracy, human rights, and freedom. We stand in solidarity with the people of China, Hong Kong, and all those around the world who continue to courageously resist oppression and dream of a better future. Let us continue to pursue a world where freedoms are protected, and people like Mr. Ding Jiaxi, are not wrongfully imprisoned and silenced, but instead honored for their work to improve society. The image of a single protestor who stood in the way of a column of tanks rolling through the streets of Beijing in June 1989 will continue to inspire those who will bravely face brute force for the sake of freedom. In confronting tyranny and injustice, we draw inspiration from the courage and resilience of those who have dared to challenge authoritarian rule. Their struggle is our struggle, and their cause is our cause.


Schiff has been a leader in supporting human rights and democratic movements across the world. Last year, Schiff re-introduced legislation to bolster the prosecution and oversight of transnational repression – efforts by foreign governments to harass, intimidate, or harm individuals beyond their own borders, including in the United States, in order to silence or coerce persons who oppose or are critical of a government.