Hong Kong held a huge candlelight vigil in Victoria Park on Monday to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
The event displeases Beijing, which has done what it can to suppress attendance and warn participants away from incendiary criticism of the Communist government.
The South China Morning Post reports attendance at the vigil is picking back up after declining in recent years, with the 2018 gathering drawing about 5,000 more participants than the 100,000 who attended in 2017. (Officials absurdly underestimate the crowd size to less than 20 percent of the actual numbers in a bid to downplay the importance of the rally.)
Organizers are hoping for an even better turnout next year, which will be the 30th anniversary of the massacre. They also expressed hope for establishing a permanent “June 4 museum” and called on vigil participants to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo.
A music video honoring Liu was screened that depicted empty chairs in various unlikely locations – a visual motif adopted by supporters of the late democracy advocate to remind the world that, when Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, the Chinese government prevented him from attending the award ceremony.
“Let’s support the release of Liu Xia! End one-party dictatorship!” organizer Lee Cheuk-yan told the crowd, referring to the widow of Liu Xiaobo, who has been harassed and effectively kept under house arrest by the Chinese government.
Another prominent dissident’s wife, Li Wenzu, sent a video message to the gathering asking for their help and support in learning the fate of her husband Wang Quanzhang, who mysteriously disappeared three years ago.
Several other speakers blasted the “one-party democracy” China has imposed on Hong Kong and referred back to the Umbrella Revolution of 2014, a youth-driven democracy protest that continues to engage the sympathies of young people in Hong Kong long after Beijing assumed it had been crushed.
Beijing and its representatives in Hong Kong government severely dislike the “one-party democracy” and “one-party dictatorship” slogans and pressured vigil organizers not to use them, but they defiantly insisted on using the terms.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commemorated Tiananmen Square in a statement released on Sunday, in which he quoted Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, “The ghosts of June 4th have not yet been laid to rest.”
“We join others in the international community in urging the Chinese government to make a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing; to release those who have been jailed for striving to keep the memory of Tiananmen Square alive; and to end the continued harassment of demonstration participants and their families,” Pompeo said in his statement.
A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry furiously responded on Monday that Pompeo “has absolutely no qualifications to demand the Chinese government do anything,” while an editor for the state-run Global Times of China sneered that Pompeo’s statement was a “meaningless stunt.”
Reuters impishly notes that Chinese citizens cannot read the fiery denunciation of Pompeo penned by Global Times editor Hu Xijin because he posted it on Twitter, which is banned by China’s authoritarian government.