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Tensions Rise in Hong Kong Before Tiananmen Anniversary

Tens of thousands of people attended the 2013 gathering in Hong Kong to mark the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Tensions Rise in Hong Kong Before Tiananmen Anniversary
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Next month, Hong Kong residents will again remember the June 4, 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square in China. They have had gatherings every year on the anniversary of the event.

But this year, some say the gatherings will be even more meaningful because people in Hong Kong increasingly feel the political influence of the Chinese government.

China bans people in the mainland country even to talk about the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square. But every year thousands gather in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to mark the anniversary. People remember the violence of that day and share thanks for their freedoms under China’s one country, two systems rule.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the candlelight gathering on June 4.

This year’s anniversary comes just months after pro-democracy protests filled Hong Kong’s streets. Tensions continue over China’s political influence in the city.

Richard Choi is deputy chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements. He says officials are increasing pressure on the June 4 Memorial Hall museum showing the history of the ’89 crackdown.

"They try to restrict the visitors that come to our museum to view our exhibition,” he says. “Like they ask all visitors to register at the building, review all of their identities, information, identity card number, names, etc.”

Mr. Choi says asking for identification will scare away visitors from the mainland.

Recently, Hong Kong officials also issued an order saying the museum violated building regulations. Mr. Choi says the museum completed the recommended building improvements in March and is waiting for government officials to examine the site again.

William Nee of Amnesty International says increasing media censorship in Hong Kong is another sign of mainland China’s influence. He says journalists and editors both say they feel pressure from the Chinese government.

“We saw many allegations that Tiananmen is not getting as much coverage as in the past, newspapers are not putting Tiananmen as prominently as they were,” Mr. Nee says.

In 2002, the group Reporters Without Borders said Hong Kong had one of the top 20 freest presses in the world. By 2014 Hong Kong had fallen to 61st place.

Recently some Hong Kong reporters have even been physically hurt. For example, last year two attackers cut the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Ming Pao with meat cleavers.

Journalists say self-censorship is also growing. And, Hong Kong newspaper editors are more careful about giving attention to stories the Chinese government might not like.

Last year more than half of Hong Kong local media owners were also part of Chinese government-named groups, including the National People's Congress.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Shannon Van Sant reported this story. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

meaningfuladj. having real importance or value

mainlandn. a large area of land that forms a country or a continent and that does not include islands

allegationn. a statement saying someone has done something wrong or illegal

prominentlyadv. easily noticed or seen

cleavern. a heavy knife with a wide blade used for cutting large pieces of meat