A Chinese state-controlled newspaper has said that claims that 10,000 people died during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre are “impossible”.

The statement came in an editorial from the Global Times, which is not a direct mouthpiece for China’s ruling communist party but is part of the government’s tightly-controlled state media system.

It decried “hype” from Western media following the release of diplomatic cables from Alan Donald, UK ambassador to China in June 1989. Mr Donald, citing a high-ranking anonymous Chinese government source, said that 10,000 pro-democracy protesters were killed in Beijing.

The envoy wrote the day after the June 4 massacre: “Students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes APCs [armoured personnel carriers] attacked. Students linked arms but were mown down including soldiers.

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