Mainlanders who visited the June 4 Memorial Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday said they hoped it could survive the legal challenge against it and remain a place where people can go to find out the truth about the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.
They were among almost 7,000 people who had visited the museum by yesterday morning, since it opened on April 26. The museum is the world's first permanent exhibition on the 1989 democracy movement.
Watch: Chinese mainland travellers visit June 4th Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui
At the museum for the first time yesterday, 35-year-old Tianjin freelancer Tang Wenquan said he was worried about the lawsuit against the museum, which is being sued by the owners' corporation for violating the deeds of the building where it is housed. "This place is pretty meagre … but if it [closes down], it will be a great loss for China, because this is the only place in China where the truth about June 4 can be made public," Tang said.
The owners' corporation of commercial block Foo Hoo Centre is seeking an injunction against the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China to stop it from using the 800 sq ft fifth-floor unit as a museum. But the alliance says it sought legal advice before buying the unit last year for more than HK$9.7 million.
Tang said he already knew a lot about what happened in 1989 - from internet research and by talking to those who witnessed the crackdown - before he visited Hong Kong, but that the museum helped him to understand the events in greater detail.
He will attend the alliance's annual candlelight vigil in Victoria Park today, he said.
Ben Cheung, a 37-year-old Guangzhou resident, said the legal challenge could raise suspicion that it was politically motivated and he was confident the alliance could resolve the matter.
Visitors at the museum yesterday included overseas tourists and journalists from France Télévisions and United States television channel CNN.
Local Form Six pupil Jessie Pang Yu-tung, 18, was there with two of her classmates. "It's quite ironic that this museum is right across the road from the Hong Kong Museum [of History] … of course [the government] wouldn't put [June 4] into part of Hong Kong's history," Pang said.
She said she had missed previous June 4 vigils because of schoolwork but would attend for the first time tonight as she had finished her exams for the year.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying brushed off questions of whether he supported calls for vindication of the June 4 protesters. "I have said in the last two years that the SAR government would not comment on the June 4 incident," Leung said.
The alliance said that of 6,790 people who had visited by yesterday morning, 1,724 had done so since Monday last week.
Beijing appears to have stepped up surveillance in the capital in the lead-up to the anniversary of the crackdown. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China on Monday condemned what it said was increasing harassment and intimidation of overseas media and their local staff by authorities.