Bitter memories of Tiananmen Square remain for Hong Kong

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The Independent Online

Angered by China's hard line against democracy in Hong Kong, tens of thousands of people waved candles, sang and chanted yesterday to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.

Angered by China's hard line against democracy in Hong Kong, tens of thousands of people waved candles, sang and chanted yesterday to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.

"Hong Kong should be democratic," Rocker Tsui, a university student, said at the annual vigil, highly charged this year by a dispute over the territory's political future. "Hong Kong people should be ruling Hong Kong ourselves."

Bitter memories remain in Hong Kong of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing which were harshly dealt with by the authoritarian Chinese government, which used tanks and troops to quell protests, killing hundreds of people, on June 4, 1989.

"The people's republic should be for the people, not for killing the people," said a woman, who identified herself only by the surname Pau, at last night's rally in a sprawling downtown park.

A monument was set up that read: "Democracy's heroes stand forever." The crowd bowed three times in a traditional Chinese funeral gesture, then chanted slogans including "demand accountability for the massacre". Organisers claimed 82,000 people had turned out, but police said that the crowd had peaked at 48,000. Hong Kong people have grown increasingly frustrated with Tung Chee-hwa, the chief executive, who is seen by many as a puppet of the mainland government. Tensions escalated when China ruled in April that Hong Kong people cannot elect Mr Tung's successor in 2007.

"He doesn't know how to deal with political problems or the economy - I wish we had a choice," said Pat Sy, a teacher. "Democracy is good for people. It's more important than the economy."

Although critics claim that China stripped away Hong Kong's guaranteed autonomy, Beijing has stressed economic growth for the territory in hopes that it will mute the demands for universal suffrage.

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