June 4th protests

Mainland Chinese back Hong Kong candlelight vigil to Tiananmen crackdown

Visitors at the vigil say it's an important way to remember the crackdown

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 10:33am

People from the mainland taking part in last night's vigil say it's important that the candlelight memorial to the June 4 crackdown carries on.

They believe that the vigil is a vital way to remember the events of 24 years ago. Supporting that sentiment, some of the mainlanders held up placards saying, "Thank you Hong Kong".

Last year, it was estimated that a tenth of the 180,000 participants were from the mainland.

"When it happened, I was 12 years old, so I kind of have some feelings towards the crackdown," said one man from Shandong , who attended the vigil with his wife and nine-year-old daughter while on a 10-day trip to the city. "[The vigil] is a chance for me to exercise my civil rights. On the mainland, we don't have such a chance."

Video: Heavy security presence in Beijing on Tiananmen anniversary

He said he had known about it before, but did not realise it was such a big event.

"It's precious," he said. "I see so many young people here who were not even born when the crackdown happened."

What he remembered from 1989 was a lot of older people talking about the event, and a lot of students who were taking part in a movement.

"But suddenly, no one dared to say a word any more. It just disappeared," he said.

"If it had not been for Hong Kong, no one would remember it. It doesn't matter if Hongkongers come here for their own benefit or for democracy on the mainland."

He said he believed the 1989 student movement would not be vindicated unless the Communist Party fell from power.

Alice Xiang, a 33-year-old art exhibition planner from Beijing, said she attended the vigil because she felt it was important. "It's our history, but it's fading," she said.

The first-time participant said she was happy to see many young people in Victoria Park.

In primary school when the tanks drove into Tiananmen Square, she only had an impression that a lot of things were happening. She learnt more about the crackdown later from older family members and friends.

On cries by activists calling for the defence of local culture, who said Hongkongers should not be concerned about democratic development on the mainland, Xiang said it was a "terrible idea".

"From the point of view of humanity, Hong Kong should attend to development of the mainland. It's like the ban on formula milk. When we can't get any safe milk, Hong Kong shouldn't just ban us from buying it," she said of government-imposed curbs on exporting formula to the mainland.