The annual Hong Kong vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre took place June 4 amid a split, with the city’s biggest student union boycotting. The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) broke from the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, to emphasize a “localist” position. An estimated 125,000 attended the vigil in Victoria Park, compared to 135,000 last year. Disturbingly, a localist protester even rushed the stage at the event, seizing a microphone to exhort: “We don’t want a democratic China, we want Hong Kong independence!”
The activist was named as Simon Sin, associated with Hong Kong Localism Power—which actually condemned his action. “Everyone has the right to choose to identify with a country, and we will not force Hong Kongers to deny they are Chinese,” said chairman Jonathan Ho Chi-kwong in a statement. “We believe that this was a malicious attempt to instigate conflict.”
But the prelude to the vigil saw some real ugliness from localist quarters. Ng Kwai-lung, head of Shue Yan University’s student union editorial board, attacked the Alliance as “pimps and bawds in a brothel” (going on to use more offensive sexual imagery) for their slogan of “building a democratic China.” Ng questioned why the vigil organizers “imagine the communists would turn good.”
Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Alliance, demanded an apology from the editorial board. He stated: “Frankly, I do not see their logic. Why would they think a ruthless China is a matter separable from pursuing a democratic Hong Kong through self-determination?” (HKFP, HKFP, June 5; AP, June 4; SCMP, May 28)
In a seeming effort to restore a sense of commonality to the Hong Kong localist movement and the Chinese pro-democracy struggle, the city’s Woofer Ten arts collective held a street-theater event commemorating the “Pitt Street Riot” in the city’s Yau Ma Tei that took place on June 7, 1989, three days after the massacre in Beijing.
Meanwhile, Taiwan held its first ever commemoration in parliament of the Tiananmen Square massacre, in a sign of change under new president Tsai Ing-wen. Although she has rejected her party’s ostensible pro-independence position, presumed Chinese hackers hit her Democratic Progressive Party’s website with a “strategic compromise”—viewers redirected to another site where they could be infected with malware. (AFP, June 4; CNN, June 2)