China edgy over Tiananmen demo

HONG KONG'S authorities claim that Xu Bangtai and Zhang Lun represent a threat to the stability of the territory. Never heard of them? Neither have many people here in Hong Kong, but they are part of a group of exiled Chinese dissidents who have been barred from entering the territory to join events marking the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre on 4 June.

China is sensitive about political anniversaries and in Hong Kong - now part of China, but a part where political protest is permitted - the administration is as jumpy as its new masters. So Hong Kong will permit what is likely to be a large rally commemorating the massacre, but will deny entry to people like Mr Xu and Mr Zhang, as well as better known dissidents like Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng.

Szeto Wah, one of Hong Kong's leading pro-democracy campaigners, said the ban on the entry of the dissidents, "shows the authorities suppressing the freedom of speech which has been enjoyed by Hong Kong". Martin Lee, the leader of the Democratic Party, said the ban raised "grave concerns" about Hong Kong's independence.

The administration has tried to take the political heat out of its decision, insisting that it was a routine matter decided under existing regulations. "All government decisions are being taken in the long-term interest of Hong Kong," said Stephen Lam, the government's chief spokesman.

There is little doubt, however, that the decision will be welcomed in Peking, where concern is mounting about what may happen not only on the Tiananmen anniversary but also during celebrations in October to mark half a century of Communist rule.

Two liberal-minded intellectual magazines have been shut in anticipation of the anniversaries, and employees of the government, Communist Party and affiliated organisations have been threatened with dismissal if they make public statements which could be interpreted as supporting democracy.

"Sensitive" places like universities have been targeted for special surveillance, according to dissident sources in Hong Kong, and a propaganda campaign emphasising the dangers of "instability" is being stepped up.

The beleaguered China Democracy Party knows that large-scale protests will only provoke a sharp response, so it has urged supporters to engage in low-key protests such as lighting candles.

Back in Hong Kong the administration is treading a careful line between not antagonising Peking and trying to assuage the groundswell of support for the democracy movement. Despite its reputation for being apolitical, Hong Kong regularly marks the Tiananmen anniversary with large rallies. The organisers of the this year's expect that the ban on dissidents from elsewhere in China will increase local interest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before