News / Asia

Hong Kong’s Differing Perspectives on Tiananmen Anniversary

  • A man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square, June 5, 1989.
  • The bodies of dead civilians lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989.
  • A blood-covered protester holds a Chinese soldier's helmet following violent clashes with military forces during pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989.
  • Pro-democracy demonstrators pitch tents in Beijing's Tiananmen Square before their protests were crushed by the People's Liberation Army on June 3, 1989.
  • A man tries to pull a Chinese soldier away from his comrades as thousands of Beijing citizens turned out to block thousands of troops on their way towards Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989.
  • A military helicopter drops leaflets above Tiananmen Square, May 22, 1989.
  • Beijing University students wave fists and flags as Chinese military helicopters fly over Tiananmen Square, May 21, 1989.
  • Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang speaks with fasting university students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, May 19, 1989.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people fill Tiananmen Square in Beijing, May 17, 1989.
  • Beijing University students relax in Tiananmen Square as their hunger strike for democracy begins a fourth day, May 16, 1989.
  • Students shout after breaking through a police blockade during a pro-democracy march to Tiananmen Square, Beijing, May 4 1989.
  • Student demonstrators scuffle with police as they try to break the guard line to march to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 27, 1989.
  • Chinese students link arms in solidarity at dawn in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 22, 1989.
  • A student leader tries in vain to settle down a crowd of Beijing University students who converged on the Chinese Communist Party headquarters after demonstrating at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 19, 1989.
The Crackdown in Tiananmen Square
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are preparing to stage a huge candlelight vigil in the city's Victoria Park to mark the 25th anniversary of Beijing's deadly crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square.
Many residents of the autonomous Chinese territory have been attending the annual June 4th vigil for years, but the turnout for this year's event is expected to be among the biggest to date.
Hong Kong authorities and most citizens support the right of the activists to commemorate the crackdown, something that is forbidden on the other side of the city's border with mainland China.
However, Hong Kong's two main political camps have differing views on the significance of the anniversary.
James Tien is the leader of the pro-establishment Liberal Party and one of 43 pro-Beijing lawmakers in the territory's 70-seat Legislative Council, or Legco. He expressed his feeling about the anniversary in a phone interview with VOA.
James Tien is a member of the Liberal Party and of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.James Tien is a member of the Liberal Party and of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.
James Tien is a member of the Liberal Party and of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.
James Tien is a member of the Liberal Party and of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

"I think Hong Kong people are taking this in a different manner than most of the mainland people we have met. In mainland China, my feeling is that the majority of the old generation or the current generation has been looking at the way China has developed in the past 25 years, how their livelihood has got that much better, how their levels of democracy and human rights have got that much better.
“Only in Hong Kong [do] we still have a lot of people reminiscing [about] what happened 25 years ago. I’m one of the Hong Kong people, and we have our right to protest and remember that tragedy 25 years ago. So there will be marches and there will be gatherings that will be mainly in Hong Kong. In fact, a lot of tourists from the mainland coming to Hong Kong look at our sit in on that day and say, 'well, we're not doing that in China, it's good that you still have that in Hong Kong in remembering that tragedy.’
“I think Beijing’s view is, that [incident] is something in the past. Did they (Chinese authorities) do the right thing or not? They probably think they did the right thing, because otherwise [they would say] Hong Kong's government and the ruling party [of China] and the economy and the livelihood of the people would not be like today. Now, what would it be [like] if that [1989 incident] took a different turn 25 years ago? No one would know.
“But most people in China will feel that, 'ah, today is much better than 25 years ago.' And the point about the tragedy on June 4th of 1989 [is that] in China [it] is not as well remembered as in Hong Kong," said Tien.
Emily Lau is one of 27 pro-democracy lawmakers in Legco and leads the Democratic Party, one of its two main pro-democracy factions. In a separate phone conversation with VOA, she gave her take on Hong Kong's mood as the anniversary approaches.
Emily Lau, a Hong Kong politician and member of the Legislative Council in the geographical seat of New Territories East.Emily Lau, a Hong Kong politician and member of the Legislative Council in the geographical seat of New Territories East.
Emily Lau, a Hong Kong politician and member of the Legislative Council in the geographical seat of New Territories East.
Emily Lau, a Hong Kong politician and member of the Legislative Council in the geographical seat of New Territories East.

"I think many Hong Kong people [and] many people elsewhere have not forgotten the massacre. And I think we are all very glad that although Hong Kong is now a Chinese city, we can still have the freedom to commemorate the people who lost their lives and also to help to push for [their] rehabilitation. And I’m quite sure many people will turn out this year to attend the Victoria Park candle light vigil. And I hope they will collectively send a very powerful signal to Beijing about this whole incident. And we hope that there would be recognition of this fact [and] an investigation, and [we hope] to push for reconciliation, and of course, to push for compensation for the victims' families.
“But I noticed there are groups, also calling themselves 'democrats', [who are] saying that we should not go to Victoria Park, [that] we should do other things. And there are also editorials in newspapers saying that we should jettison the 'baggage' of June 4 and just leave it to the people of mainland China [to deal with]. So there are many different views.
“If there are good things that the Chinese government has done [in recent years], we would like to see it. Many of us have been banned from travelling to mainland China for more than 20 years. I myself have been banned. And within the Legislative Council, where we have 70 members, at least seven have been banned for more than two decades. So that is a very, very big problem, banning the elected representatives of Hong Kong people. So if there are good things, we will not deny them. But if they (Chinese authorities) have made mistakes, they should come out and have the honesty to admit them and to find remedies," she said.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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Comment Sorting
by: Van from: Canada
June 24, 2014 7:14 PM
There are always some people holding anniversary for Tiananmen square incidents in HK, almost every year, relatives of the victims of Tiananmen square incidents always showed up in the anniversary, why these Hongkang people didn't interview these "Tiananmen square mothers/relatives" and broadcast the live interview? What we heard that there are only several, at most, tens of "Tiananmen square mothers/relatives" up to now, but these HK people exaggerate the scale of "Tiananmen square incidents" and lied that many people were killed in that incident. Come on, HK, give more real live interview instead of lies and exaggeration.

by: jonathan huang from: canada
June 04, 2014 10:59 AM
I am grateful that CCP crackdown the incident, and stopped China from sliding into chaos. Only then China had 25 years of stable development. when I look at what happened in Egypt and Ukraine, I can only say God blessed China!
keep on the good job CCP and realize our Chinese dream!

by: Roy Yau from: HK
June 04, 2014 6:31 AM
Traitor Emily Lau and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Democratic Party (DP) do NOT stand for Hong Kong People nor HK, this traitor and the betraying party has been helping HK People's enemy P.R.C. to play games to fool HK People.

This is not a party for true HK democracy, autonomy, freedom, etc but trading off HK People's rights, benefits, and HK democracy movement, autonomy movement, etc. There are also other CCP-spy-based party like "Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong" (D.A.B.), "Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions" (H.K.F.T.U.), "Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions" (HKFLU), especailly those with Chinese character "聯" to signify its CCP-related or CCP-favouring. Another similar party assisting to favour P.R.C. occupants is Labour Party, whose a major goal is to simply help out whoever sent to HK to get HK welfare.

Also, other members of this CCP DP have been helping HK's enmey, P.R.C., to colonise HK with CCP-brain-washed into HK, ease HK social welfare to benefit the unwanted PRC brain-washed in order to gain votes from these fake HK People.

If HK is actually under the control of true HK People, these traitors and trbetraying parties should have been shredded and punished in the name of treason.

Please help share and let other Earthizens to understand the desperate situation true HK People are in and face. Thanks a bunch. : )

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