Chris Tang, Hong Kong’s security commissioner, issued a warning that the police would take action against anybody planning to undermine national security on a special occasion. Eight people were held close to Victoria Park, where democracy campaigners used to congregate on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square for years after 1989. With Taiwan being the only Chinese-speaking country allowing citizens to freely celebrate the anniversary, tensions between Taiwan and China are escalating more than ever.
The Chinese phrase “special days” or “special occasion” has often appeared on social media platforms in Hong Kong in place of traditional political slogans like “vindication of June 4” and “end single-party rule” in the lead-up to the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
After Chris Tang, Hong Kong’s security commissioner, issued a warning that the police would take action against anybody planning to undermine national security on “a special occasion in a few days,” there was a change in political speech and online self-censorship.
Restrictions in Hong Kong stifle democracy
Since 2020, Hong Kong has prohibited the customary candlelight vigil to remember the Tiananmen crackdown, claiming the need to combat pandemics. This year, the police did not impose a blanket ban since all COVID-19 pandemic restrictions had been repealed. Though the government issued a terrifying warning about the legal repercussions of “harmful acts”
Chris Tang issued warnings and action to be taken against incidents or the actions that endanger national security. Public criticism of the government has been criminalized since the National Security Law was passed on June 30, 2020, and has frequently resulted in guilty prison terms. Slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Time” and visuals like the “black bauhinia flag” are examples of these statements.
Eight people were held close to Victoria Park, where democracy campaigners used to congregate on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square for years after 1989. The eight were held after “displaying protest items loaded with intolerant wording, chanting and committing unlawful acts,” according to the police.
The arrests at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay is a well-liked area for street performances and busking. Behavioral artists have performed on the streets of the business district on June 3 to remember the Tiananmen Crackdowns since Victoria Park, where the annual candlelight memorial was held for more than three decades, is close by. Only in recent years have threats of arrest begun to be used against them.
According to the colonial public order legislation, the police have the right to forbid any flag, banner, or other insignia from being shown at a public event if they think it would cause a disturbance of the peace.
Authorities in Hong Kong have been keeping an eye on activists since April and have prepared a special operation to discourage residents from celebrating the Fourth of June in public.
Despite the warnings, a few people, including some book store owners, have been secretly commemorating June 4 this year.
Chow Hang-tung, a jailed activist from Hong Kong, said on Facebook that she will go on a 34-hour hunger strike while incarcerated. Chow Hang-tung was one of the founders of The Alliance, a group that organized Hong Kong’s annual June 4 vigils before it was disbanded in 2021.
Taiwan’s liberty is at stake
Activists will organize a memorial in Taipei’s Liberty Square along with other events like a play on Tiananmen by a Hong Kong playwright in democratic Taiwan, the only region of the Chinese-speaking world where the anniversary may be observed freely and publicly.
William Lai, vice president and candidate for president in the upcoming presidential election for the Democratic Progressive Party, stated on his Facebook page that it is important to remember and talk about what happened in Beijing in 1989.
He stated that the fact that the June 4 commemoration has persisted in Taipei “shows that democracy and authoritarianism are the biggest differences between Taiwan and China.”
With the looming danger of China’s intention to capture Taiwan, this holiday is one of the highlights which showcases one of the parts Taiwan’s identity might lose and why it is of dire importance to retain that identity.