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State Secretary Mike Pompeo to Visit China’s Tiananmen Square Survivors Amid Growing U.S. Protests

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was set to meet survivors of China’s bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square just over three decades ago as the death toll of ongoing protests in the United States continues to rise.

A schedule released Tuesday by the State Department read that Pompeo would meet the survivors of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising at 2:30 p.m. ET ahead of the 31st anniversary of its suppression by Chinese armed forces. The visit will come after he is expected to also accompany President Donald Trump on a visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine and the signing of an Executive Order to Advance International Religious Freedom.

Pompeo’s event would be another symbolic jab at Beijing, with whom the Trump administration has been feuding on several overlapping geopolitical and economic issues.

But it also played out on the backdrop of worsening unrest at home. The president said Monday he would invoke a 200-plus-year-old military law to deploy troops in the U.S. in a bid to quell sometimes violent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck. Chauvin has since been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter.

As of Tuesday, around at least nine people had been reported killed in connection with the protests against police brutality and systemic racism, and they include bystanders, suspected looters and one police officer.

A woman stands in front of police officers, on June 1 as they take part in a “Black Lives Matter” rally in response to the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody, in Las Vegas, where a police officer was shot and a suspect killed during a violent encounter. Another night of clashes erupted as protesters defied curfew orders and President Donald Trump invoked an 1807 law to threaten to send regular U.S. military units into major U.S. cities.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international voices have condemned Floyd’s death and a growing number of countries critical of U.S. policy have taken aim at the ongoing clashes between police and protestors. China has accused the Trump administration of holding a “double standard” in condemning Hong Kong’s crackdown on demonstrations there while mobilizing the National Guard at home and threatening to shoot suspected looters.

Thousands have been arrested in both in the U.S. at protests following Floyd’s killing and in the Hong Kong demonstrations where residents seek more independence from Beijing. Chinese officials have cautioned against comparing the two situations.

“During the disturbance over proposed legislative amendments in Hong Kong, hostile local and foreign forces flagrantly engaged in secessionist, subversive and terrorist activities that severely threaten national security, which are ‘Hong Kong independence’ and violence in essence,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday.

“As to the trigger for protests across the U.S., American media have made thorough coverage,” he added.