Chinese Commemorate 18th Anniversary of Tiananmen Crackdown

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HONG KONG — A candlelight vigil here this evening to mark the 18th anniversary of the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square demonstrations drew an unusually large crowd, apparently in response to the recent assertion by the leader of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing party that no massacre took place in 1989.

By contrast, Tiananmen Square itself, in Beijing, remained quiet under tight security through a humid, sunny day, with the usual tour groups and pedestrians milling about. State security agents had already placed several well-known dissidents under house arrest or close watch, though some of those detained described the harassment as more passive than in years past....

In Hong Kong, the Tiananmen Square killings are once more a subject of active discussion following remarks three weeks ago by Ma Lik, the chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Mr. Ma told local reporters on May 15 that Hong Kong people lacked patriotic devotion to China because they believed that the Communist Party had massacred people at Tiananmen Square.

Mr. Ma contended that Hong Kong residents were too willing to believe versions of events in 1989 that were released by “gweilos,” a slightly derogatory local term for Westerners. He went on to suggest that the city would not be ready to be granted full democracy by Beijing until 2022 as a result.

China experts have debated for years whether hundreds of people or thousands of people were killed in the military crackdown on Tiananmen Square demonstrators, but they agree that soldiers shot large numbers of people. Mr. Ma did not say whether he believed that any deaths had occurred, but suggested that whatever happened did not constitute a massacre.

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