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(CNN) —  

The massacre of unarmed citizens by soldiers in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, should not be referred to as “suppression,” a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman told reporters Thursday.

Next Tuesday, June 4, marks 30 years since Chinese troops ended several weeks of protests by firing at civilians, killing hundreds if not thousands of people.

It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests. Several dozen people have been executed for their parts in the demonstrations.

At his monthly briefing, spokesman Wu Qian was asked by journalists if the People’s Liberation Army had any comment on the suppression of students 30 years ago.

“I don’t agree with the word ‘suppression’ in your question,” he said.

“Over the past 30 years, the process of our reform and development and our stability and achievements have already addressed your question.”

Pro-democracy demonstrators surround a truck filled of People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on 20 May 1989 in Beijing on their way to Tiananmen Square.
CATHERINE HENRIETTE/AFP/Getty Images
Pro-democracy demonstrators surround a truck filled of People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on 20 May 1989 in Beijing on their way to Tiananmen Square.

The protests began in mid-April following the death of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang, who had been deposed years earlier and was seen by students as a proponent of greater social freedoms in China.

Over the next seven weeks, protesters occupied Tiananmen Square – a huge public space that faces on to the Forbidden City and the Great Hall of the People.

Eventually, hardliners in the Chinese government cracked down on the protesters, declaring martial law and calling in the military.

The Chinese government rarely mentions the June 4 massacre and has worked for years to censor all mention of it within the country.

On the anniversary, there no public memorials or protests around the issue are expected in mainland China, due to tight government suppression.