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No one remembers Tiananmen in China anymore

The traditional image of Hong Kong’s Victoria Park turned into a vast field of flashing lights to commemorate those who died in the Tiananmen protests 34 years ago now is definitely history. The former British colony, the only Chinese city in which the student movement that led to the largest protest to demand democratic reforms in the country was remembered, hosted the last candlelight vigil in 2019, coinciding with the anti-communist riots that shook this seven-city city. million inhabitants for months. And everything indicates that it will not organize again.

First, the excuse to ban it was the coronavirus pandemic. The social distancing measures implemented in Hong Kong were incompatible with the congregation of tens of thousands of people. Now, however, the reason is legal: in 2020, Beijing imposed the National Security Law (LSN) to immediately deactivate protests against the regime and, incidentally, end any show of political discontent. Thus, a dozen people who tried last night to remember the hundreds of deaths during the eviction from Tiananmen Square, including the activist known as ‘Grandma Wong’, were arrested without regard for disturbing public order or promoting sedition.

This is how freedom is lost

Until 2019, Victoria Park was filled with lights to remember the massacre. Not anymore.


No one remembers Tiananmen in China anymore

Instead, Victoria Park hosted a Chinese cultural and gastronomic fair last weekend organized by 26 groups related to the Communist Party on the occasion of the upcoming anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Beijing. It is a historic moment that used to be remembered on July 1 with a large demonstration against the dictatorship that now does not seem to be repeated, because any criticism of the Chinese government can be interpreted as a crime classified in the LSN, whose penalties can reach to life imprisonment.

In this way, Hong Kong culminates the loss of a large part of the individual and collective rights that it had guaranteed by the Basic Law that the United Kingdom and China agreed as a mini-constitution for this town that is governed by the ‘one country, two systems’ model. According to that pact, the city would maintain for the 50 years after its integration into the Asian giant its peculiarities as a capitalist territory -even with a different currency-, in which freedom of the press or demonstration is protected and that, despite the fact that its government is not elected democratically, it is governed by the separation of powers.

Those who in 1997 believed that by 2047 China would look more like Hong Kong were obviously wrong. The economic reforms that have made the country the second world power have not translated into more political and social freedom. On the contrary, since Xi Jinping became president a decade ago, there have been steps backwards that have also spilled over into the city, where books against Chinese leaders were even published before. Goliath is getting bigger and more powerful. Now, hundreds of activists have been imprisoned or reprimanded and thousands of citizens have decided to go into exile in countries like the United Kingdom, which have established programs to facilitate emigration and reception. Little by little, the resistance to the Communist Party has left Hong Kong.

Collective amnesia spreads

The Police were sweeping the streets to prevent anyone from holding candles


No one remembers Tiananmen in China anymore

And with it has disappeared the memory of the Tiananmen massacre, which remains completely censored in mainland China. Searches and comments related to the events of 1989 are deleted, and even the tricks that netizens seek to circumvent those restrictions are detected and can lead to account suspension and, since registration with a real identity is mandatory, in the detention of the person who publishes the messages.

“Under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, we are integrating into China, where there are no vigils either, and making the economy our priority,” said prominent pro-Chinese TV presenter Natalis Chan Pak-cheung, adding that Hong Kongers they must get used to the fact that there is no longer space to remember what happened on Tiananmen. The red line in politics is clear, and anything that involves criticism of the leadership of the Communist Party is banned. The youngest, who participated in the 2019 protests, fear that all information about what happened will soon be erased and the amnesia that was imposed a long time ago in mainland China will also take over Hong Kong, a city that is increasingly less distinguished from the rest.

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