The Chinese government doesn't often talk about the Tiananmen crackdown that shook Beijing 30 years ago this week. When reporters ask about it, Beijing officials often divert the conversation to the economic boom China has experienced since 1989.
Several hundred or perhaps thousands of Chinese pro-democracy protesters were killed at Tiananmen Square in 1989, according to various independent estimates.They were attacked by Chinese troops — some of them deployed in columns of tanks.
People's Liberation Army Senior Colonel Zhou Bo this week said there was "nothing wrong" with China's crackdown on protests 30 years ago — and he cited the country's economic prosperity since then as evidence of Beijing's proper course.
"Look at China after this incident. China has prospered," he told CNBC's Sri Jegarajah in a wide-ranging interview. "China, the Chinese people's living standards are much higher. And we did do the right thing. There's nothing wrong with it."
Zhou provided no evidence of a link between economic prosperity and the events of June 4, 1989. But setting aside the human cost of 1989, anyone who wants to understand the new, global assertiveness from Beijing would be well served to look at the economic changes Zhou mentioned.
Below are four charts that illustrate them.