- President Donald Trump in 1990 said China had showed the “power of strength” when its troops massacred hundreds, possibly thousands, of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square the year before.
- The Tiananmen Square massacre was 30 years ago today, on June 4, 1989.
- Trump in a March 1990 Playboy interview said, “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength.”
- Trump went on to say, “That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…as being spit on by the rest of the world.”
- As president, Trump has frequently expressed admiration for authoritarian leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among others.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Back in March 1990 – many years before he became president –Donald Trump expressed admiration for the Chinese government’s “vicious” crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square the year prior.
At the time, Trump was being interviewed by Playboy magazine on his life in the fast lane as a real estate mogul and was asked about a trip he’d taken to Moscow a few years before.
Trump said he’d been “very unimpressed” with the Soviet Union.
“Their system is a disaster,” Trump said. “What you will see there soon is a revolution; the signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with [former Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.”
The future US president was then asked if he meant “firm hand as in China.”
“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength,” Trump replied. “That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…as being spit on by the rest of the world.”
Trump has frequently expressed admiration for authoritarian, strongmen leaders – including Xi Jinping, China’s current president. His approval of China showing the “power of strength” in Tiananmen three decades ago is consistent with much of his behaviour as president.
On June 4, 1989, after several weeks of pro-democracy and pro-reform demonstrations, Chinese troops entered Tiananmen Square in Beijing and fired on unarmed people. Hundreds, possibly thousands, were killed.
The Chinese government has sought to erase the massacre, which was 30 years ago today, from the history books.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.