The annual Hong Kong vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre has been cancelled.
This is the first time in 33 years the city will not hold a vigil. Normally, Hongkongers hold a candlelight ceremony in Victoria Park to commemorate the victims of a Chinese government massacre of peaceful protestors in 1989. Organizers cited fear of running afoul of the national security law as the reason for canceling the vigil.
In 2020, Beijing passed a new national security law giving it greater legal control over Hong Kong. This crushed Hong Kong’s liberal freedoms, stifling democracy and dissent to ensure the city conformed to Beijing’s authoritarian agenda. Many opposed to Beijing’s rule are now forced into silence for fear of prosecution and conviction under the national security law.
Expect no public recognition of the Tiananmen Square massacre today in Hong Kong. Success suppressing this vigil proves Beijing has brought Hong Kong under its wing, ending the “one country, two systems” principle. Freedoms will continue to disappear in the short-term until Hong Kong resembles mainland China. Medium- to long-term, this will likely harm Hong Kong’s status as Southeast Asia’s financial hub as Western democracies will be wary of doing business there.
Wescott is a Copy-Editor and Senior Analyst. His thematic focuses are international security, politics, economics and public policy.