It has been 35 years since Chinese troops stormed the square and opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday.

Taiwanese President William Lai-chung-tei has vowed that Beijing’s brutal crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989 would not be forgotten, as Hong Kong deployed hundreds of police to monitor potential commemorative activities.

Tuesday marks 35 years since Chinese troops stormed the square where students and activists had camped for weeks. Open fire And killed hundreds, if not thousands. An official death toll has never been released.

“The memory of June 4 will not disappear into the stream of history,” Lai wrote in a statement on Facebook, adding that Taiwan, a democratic island claimed by Beijing, “is committed to perpetuating this historical memory.” Will work hard for it.”

The Tiananmen Square protesters wanted political reform and were frustrated with the government’s handling of the economy and the rise of corruption. Party leaders dismissed them as “counter-revolutionaries” and after the crackdown, many protesters fled abroad.

In the years since, discussion of Tiananmen has become taboo on the mainland.

Hong Kong police are looking for performance artist Sanmo Chen.
Hong Kong police search performance artist Sanmo Chen after a tip tracing the Chinese characters 8964 to Tiananmen Square. [Yan Zhao/AFP]

As of 2020, Hong Kong was the only Chinese territory to hold a commemoration of the crackdown, with thousands turning out in Victoria Park for its annual vigil.

They The event has now been banned. And its organizers were jailed.

Eight people have been arrested in recent days. Alleged rebellion The arrests are the first under Hong Kong’s domestic national security law over Tiananmen-related social media posts, which are in addition to a broader security law enacted by China in 2020.

The South China Morning Post reported that hundreds of police were deployed to monitor “sensitive” locations, with some occupying a vigil in Victoria Park.

On Monday night, performance artist Sanmu Chen was dragged away by police after the Chinese characters for the number 8964, which represent the date of the crackdown, were drawn in the air. Chen’s lawyer told AFP news agency that the artist was later released.

‘Truth should not be erased’

Meanwhile, Chinese and Hong Kong exiles joined activists in Canada, Britain, the United States and elsewhere to commemorate the events of June 1989.

More than 2,000 people attended a vigil in Toronto, including the city’s mayor. A vigil was also held on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, while a series of events including public debates, an exhibition and a play were held in London.

Campaign group Hong Kong Watch stressed that it was important to remember June 4.

“Those who live in freedom must uphold our responsibility to ensure that June 4, 1989, is never forgotten,” said Benedict Rogers, the group’s founder and chief executive. “We must ensure that candles are lit and remembered in every corner of the world in honor of the courage and sacrifice of those who protested in 1989. The truth must not be erased.”

Taiwan’s Lai, who was sworn into office last month after winning a January presidential election, said what happened in Tiananmen was a reminder that “democracy and freedom are hard-won”.

Beijing has. He did not rule out the use of force. to take control of Taiwan and held two-day war games around the island in the days following Lai’s inauguration.

In his post, Lai praised Taiwan’s transition from an authoritarian military regime to a thriving democracy and wrote that “any respectable country” allowed its people to speak.

“Any political power must bravely face the voices of the people, especially the young generation, because social change often depends on different opinions,” he said.

“We must use democracy to build consensus, respond to autocracy with freedom, confront authoritarian expansion with courage and face challenges with unity,” he said.

China accuses Lai of being a “separatist”. Like his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen, he argues that the Taiwanese people should decide their own future.

Taiwan will commemorate Tiananmen on Tuesday evening.

Anna Kwok, executive director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, holds a candle as she attends a candlelight vigil.
Anna Kwok, executive director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, holds a candle during a candlelight vigil in Washington, DC. [Alex Wong/Getty Images via AFP]

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