Hong Kong’s Victoria Park will become sea of candlelight tonight, just as it has been on every June 4 since 1990 to mark the anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown. Tonight all eyes will be on if, and how, the turnout for the annual candlelight vigil, which starts at 8pm, will be affected by alternative rallies at other venues and the growth of localism. More than 180,000 people attended last year’s vigil in the park to call for vindication of those killed in 1989, according to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which has organised the annual commemorative event since its inception. The previous biggest turnout reported by the alliance was 180,000 in 2012. Police, however, put the turnout at 99,500, compared with 54,000 in 2013. Many mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong are expected to join the vigil, with the city the only place under the jurisdiction of Chinese authorities where people can observe the anniversary in public and on such a large scale. Radical pan-democratic group Civic Passion launched a bus tour of the city this afternoon to commemorate the pro-democracy movement. The trip around the city’s 18 districts is also a parody of top officials’ recent parade to promote the government’s political reform package from the top of a double decker. “We are confident that we will be able to get off the bus,” said the group’s leader Wong Yeung-tat, referring to the fact that the 30 top officials, including Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, did not leave their vehicle to engage with the public. The bus tour is expected to end at the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower at 10pm, where the group will burn life-sized cardboard cut-outs of the officials in a way that imitates traditional Chinese tradition to burn offerings to the dead. Wong said his group planned no protest action after that. Leaders of student unions at several universities have decided to skip this year’s vigil in protest at one of the alliance’s slogans: to “build a democratic China”. Civic Passion member Cheng Chung-tai said that Hongkongers had no responsibility to do so. “The assumption that Hong Kong would have no democracy unless China is democratised is fundamentally flawed,” Cheng said. “Such logic has been poisoning Hongkongers for too long.” The student unions of four other universities, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong, will give speeches at Victoria Park Meanwhile, the student union of the University of Hong Kong will for the first time organise its own public assembly on campus in Pok Fu Lam from 7.30pm, to give mourners an “alternative” to the Victoria Park vigil. The thought of localism has been gaining ground among some young people in recent years among growing anti-mainland sentiment. The term, along with the label “nativists”, has emerged in the local political lexicon to refer to people who share an ideology of focusing solely on Hong Kong affairs to the exclusion of all things national. The alliance, which was founded in May 1989 to support student activists in Beijing and helped some student leaders wanted by mainland authorities to escape, will be put to test this year. According to a telephone survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme from May 22 to May 28, the popularity rating of the alliance dropped sharply to 44.6 marks, a record low since 1992. The survey found 38 per cent of 1,089 respondents opposed disbanding the alliance, versus 26 per cent who supported the idea. Some 52 per cent agreed the official stand on the June 4 incident – described as a “counter-revolutionary riot” – should be reversed, down from last year’s 56 per cent.