Today, we held a candlelight vigil at the U.S. embassy to remember the victims of the massacre in Tiananmen Square 32 years ago on June 4, 1989. Those killed were only trying to find new ways to strengthen the country they loved. They were patriots whom we remember, and their courage continues to inspire us.
In the United States, we recognize that we must constantly strive to make our daily reality more fully reflect our professed ideals. That requires us to take a hard look at where we fall short and confront some difficult truths. However, we see this struggle as a source of strength, not a weakness. A few days ago, President Biden visited Tulsa, Oklahoma to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the horrific Tulsa race massacre. As the President has reminded us, “the battle for the soul” of America “has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years.” The founders of our republic recognized the need to address the shortcomings of human nature and created our system of checks and balances that was preserved in our Constitution a reverence for free speech. That is why you can read about the real challenges we face through our free and open press. Our transparency and tolerance of debate and differences are what allow Americans to come together in support of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.
I have lived in China for extended periods over the past four decades and have enjoyed sharing meals and exchanging ideas with Chinese people from all walks of life. When I taught here in the early 1980s, I had the privilege of witnessing the optimism of Chinese students and shared their excitement for a brighter future. The American people join others around the world today to say that we will never forget those killed on June 4, 1989, nor will we let go of their dreams for a better future.