Remembering June 4th in Hong Kong

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Mike Clarke / AFP / Getty Images

Hong Kongers, as they have every year since 1989, gathered tonight to recall the demonstrators who were killed in Beijing. The memorial is focused on the events of 18 years ago and yet remains symbol of the city’s larger relationship with China. This is the only place in the country where people can gather en masse to commemorate those who died. The turnout fluctuates from year to year, often due to some factor that influences how people feel about the central government. In 2004 large numbers came out because Beijing had just blocked an expansion of Hong Kong’s limited democracy in 2007 and 2008. This year the turnout was big again–organizers put it at 55,000 while police said 28,000–in part because Ma Lik, a local, pro-Beijing politician, told a group of reporters that June 4 shouldn’t be considered a massacre. That upset some people here. If the numbers above are any indication, there’s a sizable group of people here who don’t agree with Mr. Ma.