Memorials for the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
In the days following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, many memorials and vigils were held around the world.
Vindicate 4 June and Relay the Torch is an annual activity mourning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 organised by Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China in Hong Kong Victoria Park.
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The anniversary in 2012 was held in the backdrop of the escape of blind activist-lawyer Chen Guangcheng from house arrest and subsequent departure for the United States. For their programming, media preparing for the anniversary interviewed little-known Tiananmen labour activist Li Wangyang, who had been in captivity for 21 years and who was released in 2011. Li called for a vindication of the 1989 protests, and unrepentantly said he would continue to urge for multi-party democracy in China "even if I am beheaded".
On the day of the 23rd anniversary itself, the Shanghai Composite Index opened at 2346.98 points– "23" supposedly signified the anniversary year; "46.98" was read as 4 June 1989, backwards. At the close, the index had fallen 64.89 points. Due to the significance of the numbers, internet censors were reportedly in overdrive– searches for "stock market", "Shanghai stock", "Shanghai stock market", "index" were blocked; Microblog postings about the numbers were also deleted by censors.
According to organisers, the candlelight vigil was attended by over 180,000 people– the largest attendance since 1989. Police estimated the turnout at 85,000. The New York Times noted the apparent rejuvenation of the popular movement, with "an unusually large turnout" of the post-1990 generation. The media reported that memorials were openly held in Shanghai Beijing and Guangzhou for the first time since 1989.
2012 activist's suspicious death
On 6 June 2012, one year after his release from prison and a few days following two television interviews broadcast to mark the occasion, Li Wangyang was found hanged in a hospital room in his native Hunan. "Suicide" was claimed by the local authorities. A protest march on 10 June in Hong Kong to demand a thorough investigation into Li's death was attended by 25,000 people, according to organisers; Police estimated the turnout at 5,400. Li's death was universally hailed as "suspicious", and local pro-establishment politicians escalated the matter to various Communist Party officials or bodies. Following the outcry, the Hunan provincial government ordered a criminal investigation into the death.
The People's Republic was marked by a changing of the guard to the Xi–Li Administration. An profile in The New York Times suggested that the new leadership may be ambivalent about the events in 1989, as some of them were involved as students or knew people on both sides of the protest movement. The NYT analysis said "the immersion of today's leaders in the political experimentation of the 1980s raises the question of whether they will be more open to new ideas and discussion than their immediate predecessors in high office... [but] any potential embrace of the more freewheeling spirit of the 1980s appears to be hindered by the conformism demanded of those who have ascended in the hierarchy – and their dread of being accused of ideological heresy".
In Hong Kong, the anniversary was commemorated in the immediate backdrop of the an embattled chief executive days after the resignation of Barry Cheung, his most trusted supporter, from the executive council amidst a financial scandal – Cheung was chairman and principal shareholder of the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange which collapsed in mid-May.
The issue of democratic development – roadmap for universal suffrage in election for the chief executive in 2017 and Legco in 2020 – was also a major perennial concern. The pan-democrats had achieved consensus on the model of universal suffrage for Hong Kong on a plan to nudge the government to prepare the ground – Benny Tai, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong, proposed a plan to occupy Central starting July 2014 should there not be concrete steps towards universal suffrage.
Assault on democrat
Media entrepreneur Chen Ping (陳平), who is a strong supporter of democratic change in China, was assaulted by two "thugs" on 3 June about 6 pm, as he was leaving his Chai Wan office. Chan owns a hard-hitting anti-Beijing weekly magazine iSun Affairs distributed in Taiwan, Macau and Malaysia but which is banned in China; likewise is Chen’s TV channel, Sun TV. The Taipei Times suggested that the attack may have been "politically motivated and an attempt to silence a man of means who stands up to the CCP".
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- Chang Ping (16 June 2012) "Tracking back" South China Morning Post
- Chan, Kaiyee (7 June 2012). "Bizarre 'suicide' in Hunan of June 4 leader is suspected murder". China Daily Mail. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
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- "2.5萬人申寃 還李旺陽清白". Apple Daily. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- Siu, Phila (11 June 2012). "Li death sparks mass protest". The Standard.
- Lau, Stuart; Lee, Colleen; Tam, Johnny; Shi, Jiangtao (11 June 2012). "Thousands demand Li Wangyang probe" South China Morning Post
- Siu, Phila; Chan, Roy (15 June 2012). "Task force set up to probe activist death". The Standard.
- Demick, Barbara (13 March 2013). "China's Xi Jinping formally assumes title of president". Los Angeles Times.
- Jacobs, Andrew; Buckley, Chris. (3 June 2013). "Elite in China Molded in Part by Tiananmen". The New York Times.
- The Associated Press (4 June 2013). "Hong Kong marks Tiananmen anniversary with annual vigil". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
- "Leung feels heat of scandal". The Standard, 29 May 2013
- Siu, Beatrice (27 May 2013) "Mainland woman held in HKMEx probe". The Standard
- Luk, Eddie (25 February 2013). "Hot talk swirls on 'occupy Central' idea". The Standard.
- Editorial (5 June 2013). "A serious warning from Hong Kong", Taipei Times