efe-epaBy Javier Triana Beijing

Not a single reference to the brutal crackdown in the official press – that on Tuesday opted to underline China's economic and social progress – and a discourse along the same lines are all that the Chinese government had to offer on the day of the 30th anniversary of what is known as the Tiananmen Square massacre.

There was just a veiled mention of the incident in the official Global Times newspaper, with Fudan University's China Institute director Zhang Weiwei claiming that "China would have followed the way of the Soviet Union and collapsed" if Chinese leaders would not have taken tough measures to safeguard the stability of the country 30 years ago.

"The tremendous (economic) success (by China) shows that the decision made by them was correct," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang in a routine press conference on Tuesday.

"It safeguarded China stability and environment, and the Chinese people will continue to move forward on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Geng stressed.

The iconic Tiananmen Square remained fortified on Tuesday, with strong security measures right from the morning to prevent commemorations of the brutal massacre of an unknown number of protesting citizens on Jun.4, 1989 when the army rolled its tanks in the heart of the Chinese capital Beijing to suppress weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Thirty years later, there were no army tanks but police vehicles in the square, and the only students visible were foreigners wanting to visit the iconic place that lent its name to a massacre in which several hundreds of people lost their lives across different neighborhoods in the city.

The massacre was the climax to weeks of protests against institutional corruption and demands for political reforms, during which the postures of the students and the government progressively radicalized.

Nowadays, any attempt to protest is quickly silenced, and every time there is a sensitive date or event in Beijing, internet censorship is intensified. Jun. 4 has been no exception.

For instance, most of the virtual private networks (VPN or paid services that simulate an online connection from countries with free internet access in order to bypass Chinese censorship) stopped functioning in the country.

Other habitual measures during such kind of anniversaries - among them the annual meeting of the National People's Congress - include forcing activists to go on vacations.

The case of activist Ou Biaofeng has drawn eyeballs as this time when he was sent to Yunnan, on the other end of the country.

With even a historic episode of such magnitude silenced in China, the voices of criticism have been limited to private spaces or abroad.

From the European Union, High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini condemned the situation and urged Beijing to take responsibility and respect those who wished to commemorate the anniversary.

She asked the Chinese government to implement the recommendations on Tiananmen issued by the United Nations Committee Against Torture Feb. 2016.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen accused Beijing of wanting to "hide the truth" of what happened in Tiananmen, as the extent of army brutality during the incident remains unknown. Different sources indicate that the number of lives lost were between a few hundreds and a few thousands.

Whether a country is civilized or not depends on how the government treats its people and how they face the errors of the past, according to a post on Tsai's Facebook page.

Her post also contained a drawing depicting Tsai marking the occasion with a message urging people not to forget the fourth of June.

Several human rights organizations have also called out to Beijing to ensure justice and stop criminalizing victims of repression.