With the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests coming June 4, the Chinese government is tightening a fist of censorship.
BEIJING — Even by the standards of the clampdowns that routinely mark politically sensitive dates in China, the approach this year to June 4, the anniversary of the day in 1989 when soldiers brutally ended student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, has been particularly severe.
The days preceding June 4 often mean house arrest for vocal government critics and an Internet scrubbed free of even coded references to the crackdown that dare not speak its name.
But this year, the 25th anniversary of the bloodshed that convulsed the nation and nearly sundered the Communist Party, censors and security forces have waged an aggressive “stability maintenance” campaign that has sent a chill through the ranks of Chinese legal advocates, liberal intellectuals and foreign journalists.
In recent weeks, a dozen prominent scholars and activists have been arrested or criminally detained, and even seemingly harmless gestures, like posting a selfie in Tiananmen Square while flashing a V for victory, have led to detentions.
The police have been warning Western journalists to stay away from the square in the coming days or “face grave consequences,” according to several reporters summoned to meetings with stone-faced public security officials.