Chanting slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong,” thousands of people in Hong Kong flouted a police ban on Thursday as they gathered to memorialize the Tiananmen Square massacre, a striking display of defiance against Beijing’s tightening grip on the territory.
“We have a responsibility to remember and to grieve,” said Clara Tam, 51, who took part in a vigil for the victims of the Chinese military’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on June 4, 1989. “We have to let survivors know that we have not forgotten the children and loved ones they had lost.”
The public displays of anger and grief took on greater meaning this year amid a push by China to impose broad new security measures that take direct aim at the semiautonomous territory’s antigovernment demonstrations. In what critics see as the government’s latest attempt to curb dissent, Hong Kong on Thursday passed a law making it a crime to mock China’s national anthem.
China’s ruling Communist Party has sought to curtail Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement after a year of demonstrations that sometimes turned violent. The unrest has erupted as Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, has overseen an expansive crackdown on dissent on the mainland, with officials deploying censorship and imprisonment to silence critics. Many residents in Hong Kong fear that their territory’s cherished civil liberties are in the party’s cross hairs.