Tiananmen Square: As Peking forbids public remembrance of the massacre, 40,000 Hong Kong marchers defy China

Police quick to step in
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Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothes security officials gathered in and around Tiananmen Square yesterday, ensuring the anniversary of the 1989 massacre went unmarked, at least in public.

One lone young Chinese woman bravely tried to lay a bunch of flowers in the square, in memory of those who died in the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. But it was not a gesture acceptable to the authorities. Within minutes she was dragged away by police, bundled into a motorcycle sidecar, and driven to an unknown fate.

It was an isolated incident on a day when Peking people silently marked the anniversary of "six, four", as the date is known to the Chinese. The police presence was noticeably higher, but less so than last year when the anniversary fell at the weekend.

The authorities had pulled their usual tricks - such as hosing down the lawns at Peking University to flood one possible gathering place. But the atmosphere in the university district was not as tense as in previous years.

Late last night, driving through Peking, large numbers of the People's Armed Police were quickly in evidence, even allowing for the excuse of a traffic incident.

With almost all China's dissident voices in detention, the overriding impression in the city yesterday was of a government that still believes it must rely on force to control the population.