News / Asia

Tens of Thousands Stage Tiananmen Anniversary Vigil in Hong Kong

Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing.
Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing.
VOA News
Tens of thousands of people have turned out in Hong Kong for a vigil marking the 25th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

A sea of candles lit the massive Victoria Park late Wednesday, as throngs gathered to sign songs and listen to speeches marking the massacre that ended the 1989 pro-democracy movement in China.

Renz Tse, an activist taking part in the vigil, says it is crucial that Beijing know Hong Kong supports democratic freedoms and opposes violence.

"We understand the importance of fighting for the democracy of the China. As Hong Kong is a part of China and nowadays the political reforms are now opposed by the Communist Party - they are trying to elect a chief executive [of Hong Kong] that only responds to the mainland China government," said Renz.

The situation was much quieter in Beijing Wednesday and security was tight on Tiananmen Square. Hundreds of Chinese officers checked identifications and kept journalists from reporting in the square.

Beijing allows no public discussion of the 1989 massacre, in which soldiers killed hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protesters.
  • Chinese paramilitary policemen man a security checkpoint on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 4, 2014.
  • Chinese paramilitary policemen chant slogans as they march at a barrack near Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, June 4, 2014.
  • A child holds up a Chinese national flag as he poses for a photo in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, June 4, 2014.
  • Visitors line up for a security check to enter Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 4, 2014.
  • Chinese paramilitary policemen practice their salutes at a barrack near Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, June 4, 2014.
  • A police car is seen in front of a giant portrait of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 4, 2014.

The White House urged China Wednesday to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the crackdown.  It said the United States "will always speak out in support of the basic freedoms the protesters at Tiananmen Square sought."

In response, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman accused the United States of infringing on China's sovereignty.

"We demand the U.S. side respect China's judicial sovereignty and not make irresponsible comments on issues that are related to China's internal affairs," he said.

China's government has never given a death toll or an official statement of what happened.

The 1989 demonstrations included citizens from all walks of life who expressed frustration at rising inequality, rampant official corruption and a lack of democratic freedoms.

Shen Tong was a third year student at Beijing University when the massacre happened. He told VOA that he did not expect Chinese troops to kill civilians in 1989.

"It is one of those things that the day before you think is impossible, [but] the day after it becomes inevitable. So in some larger sense, I would say nobody predicted that. But then when the moment actually was upon us, all the factors before that seemed to lead to that inevitable outcome," he said.

Shen Tong, who was forced to leave China for his safety following the crackdown, said the incident represents a missed opportunity for the Communist Party to be more open to the will of the people and to implement what he calls a "more balanced development."

View interactive timeline of crackdown on Tiananmen Square

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Comment Sorting
by: Van Vong
June 04, 2014 12:11 PM
There is no American people (not even one) gather to remember the killing of native Indian, or the Mexican in the past. And thats what made America great.

by: Terry Vaughn Burnett from: USA
June 04, 2014 12:01 PM
Now, I know America's corrupt,greedy, and hypoceitical and has real rotten history of it's done to it's natives and poor but at least we have seen some positive change but China is a real old tortuous sinister goverment. Both are far removed from a citizen centered and sensitive like France. To have killed it's people like they were ants in the street displays what they are capable of doing on a world scale.If there was ever a war ,China would destroy the world if ir had to.Yet, it contiues to grow from trade and other numerous economic avenues despite how it stands politically other countries are only interested in it's economic advantages.This is a growing monster.

by: yarrov from: usa
June 04, 2014 11:43 AM
If the Hong Kong crowd was not armed with cellphone cameras, another Tiananmen incident might occur.

by: gratefulneal from: Richmond, VA
June 04, 2014 11:22 AM
Nice to see a show of solidarity from Hong Kong - shame all of China can't "voice their opinions" - without retribution from their tyrannical government.

When are governments going to allow their citizens free and open access to them and to the press ? It's 2014 - not 1950

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