Hong Kong carries the flame for Tiananmen

By Paul Lin 林保華

Saturday, Jun 06, 2009, Page 8

Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. For 20 years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has created a mass of lies about what happened and has used China’s economic development to cover up its murderous acts.

Self-styled anti-communist President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said he has been deeply moved by the CCP’s progress. In stark contrast, the people of Hong Kong have been staging a protest on the Sunday before June 4 each year; this year they also held a candlelight vigil on June 4, which was attended by tens of thousands of people in Victoria Park.

Sunday’s demonstration saw the biggest turnout since 1992, which means that it was the largest since handover. But there was more to the protest than the 20th anniversary of the massacre: Recent actions of the CCP and the Hong Kong government also set off anti-CCP feelings among Hong Kong residents.

First, the CCP has been trying to establish a second power base in Hong Kong to intervene directly in government affairs because it is unsatisfied with the administration’s insistence that “Hong Kong people rule Hong Kong.”

Second, on the eve of Tiananmen Square Massacre memorial services, Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) — under pressure from Beijing — tried to use China’s economic development to gloss over the murderous acts of the CCP, claiming that this represented the opinion of the people of Hong Kong. Tsang immediately apologized, but his comments caused an uproar.

Third, early last month, Hong Kong University Students’ Union chairman Ayo Chan (陳一諤) said at a forum on the Tiananmen Square Massacre that China should rehabilitate the June 4 movement. But he added that the suppression could have been avoided if students had dispersed before the crackdown. Chan also described Beijing’s bloody actions as being “slightly problematic” and said Beijing should not be blamed. As a result, students at the university organized a referendum to recall Chan.

Fourth, during the live talk show City Forum on Radio Television Hong Kong late last month, Stanley Lui (呂智偉), the convener of the Hong Kong Youth Development Network, said the early part of the student movement was patriotic. But he said that when Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人), vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, brought donations from Hong Kong to Beijing, the movement changed in character. This reference to support for China’s democratic movement in Hong Kong as a “cash transfer” incensed Hong Kong’s democrats.

As many as 61.2 percent of Hong Kongers now think that the Tiananmen student movement should be rehabilitated, an increase of 12 percentage points compared with last year and the highest figure since 1997.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and the pro-democracy camp consist of moderates and radicals, with the moderates being the mainstream. Although the factions quarrel and pro-China media and politicians take the opportunity to discredit them, they unite at crucial times to stop pro-China lawmakers from changing legislative procedures. They also stage joint protests, because they know who the common enemy is.

The people of Hong Kong are pragmatic and do nothing that strays too far from their goals. Their support for China’s democracy movement is a sincere contribution; they avoid attacking one another in order to make best use of limited resources. They stand up when the values they believe in are in crisis. They did so six years ago when China forced through its National Security Law, and they are doing so now as the truth of the Tiananmen Square Massacre struggles to be heard.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

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