Hong Kong marks 28 years since Tiananmen crackdown

2017-06-04 17:46
Tens of thousands of people attend the annual candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square military crackdown. (Kin Cheung, AP)

Tens of thousands of people attend the annual candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square military crackdown. (Kin Cheung, AP)

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Hong Kong - Thousands of Hong Kong residents attended a candlelight vigil on Sunday for victims of the Chinese government's 1989 brutal military crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, while Taiwan's president called on Beijing to face up to the history.

Hundreds if not thousands of unarmed protesters and onlookers were killed late on June 3 and the early hours of June 4 1989, after China's communist leaders ordered the military to retake Tiananmen Square from the student-led demonstrators. Commemoration of the events, whether public or private, remains taboo in mainland China.

Open mind

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in posts on Facebook and Twitter that 28 years ago, the actions of students and citizens who challenged the political system in China "inspired a generation".

She appealed to Beijing to "face up to June 4 with an open mind" and said Taiwan was willing to share its experiences of transitioning to democracy in the late 1980s to ease the pains of such a transition in the mainland.

"For democracy: some are early, others are late, but we will all get there in the end," she wrote on Twitter.

While mainland Chinese are only dimly aware of what happened at Tiananmen Square nearly three decades ago, the subject is openly discussed in the self-governing island of Taiwan and in Hong Kong, a special Chinese region with much autonomy and legally entrenched freedom of speech and other civil rights unseen on the mainland.

The annual evening vigil in Hong Kong, which regularly draws tens of thousands, is the only large-scale commemoration on Chinese territory of the Tiananmen bloodshed.

Cut off contact

Relations between Beijing and Taiwan have been near an all-time low since Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party has advocated for Taiwan's formal independence, took over as president a year ago. Since then, Beijing has cut off contacts with Taiwan's government and discouraged mainlanders from visiting the island as tourists.

The authoritarian Communist Party rulers in Beijing insist that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are part of a single Chinese nation and have vowed to take control of the island by force if necessary.

Read more on:    tiananmen square  |  tsai ing-wen  |  hong kong

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