China responded pointedly to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on the 30th anniversary of the Chinese army’s bloody suppression of student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The dueling statements underscore the vast divide in perceptions of the events of three decades ago, which Beijing considers a taboo subject that the West only raises in order to embarrass and de-legitimize China as part of a strategy to contain its development.

Excerpts from Pompeo’s statement and the rebuttal issued by an unidentified spokesman from the Chinese Embassy in Washington:

Security officials stand guard on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Chinese authorities stepped up security Tuesday around Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, a reminder of the government's attempts to quash any memories of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests 30 years ago. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Security officials stand guard on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Chinese authorities stepped up security Tuesday around Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, a reminder of the government’s attempts to quash any memories of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests 30 years ago. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

— Pompeo: “We express our deep sorrow to the families still grieving their lost loved ones, including the courageous Tiananmen Mothers, who have never stopped seeking accountability, despite great personal risk. The events of thirty years ago still stir our conscience, and the conscience of freedom-loving people around the world.”

— Chinese Embassy spokesman: “Under the pretext of human rights, the statement grossly intervenes in China’s internal affairs, attacks its system, and smears its domestic and foreign policies. This is an affront to the Chinese people and a serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations.

— Pompeo: “Over the decades that followed, the United States hoped that China’s integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society. Those hopes have been dashed.”

A Chinese paramilitary policeman pulls a gate closed as tourists take photos on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Chinese authorities stepped up security Tuesday around Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, a reminder of the government's attempts to quash any memories of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests 30 years ago. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A Chinese paramilitary policeman pulls a gate closed as tourists take photos on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Chinese authorities stepped up security Tuesday around Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, a reminder of the government’s attempts to quash any memories of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests 30 years ago. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

— Chinese Embassy spokesman: “The Chinese government and people reached the verdict on the political incident of the late 1980s long ago. Over the past four decades of reform and opening-up, China has enjoyed rapid economic and social development, continuous progress in democracy and the rule of law, flourishing culture and significantly improved standards of living. China’s human rights are in the best period ever.”

— Pompeo: “We salute the heroes of the Chinese people who bravely stood up thirty years ago in Tiananmen Square to demand their rights. Their exemplary courage has served as an inspiration to future generations calling for freedom and democracy around the world.”

— Chinese Embassy spokesman: “The Chinese people have the best say on China. Their pursuit of a better life cannot be stopped by any force. Whoever attempt to patronize and bully the Chinese people in any name, or preach a “clash of civilizations” to resist the trend of times will never succeed. They will only end up in the ash heap of history.”