China shadow looms large over bid to scrap Tiananmen crackdown museum in Hong Kong

Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:34am EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Grace Li and Alice Woodhouse

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A planned museum dedicated to the brutal crackdown on China's Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests has run into a legal challenge in Hong Kong that some say is motivated by pro-China interests ahead of the 25th anniversary of the bloodshed.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but remains a free-wheeling, capitalist hub whose annual candlelight vigils on June 4 set it apart from mainland China where all public commemorations are banned.

Discussion of the Tiananmen Square crackdown is still taboo in China, where on June 3 and June 4, 1989, its leaders ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators and sent in tanks to crush a student-led campaign movement, killing hundreds.

But 17 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China, a bid to establish the world's first permanent museum dedicated to the crackdown in an 800-sq-ft, fifth-floor unit in a commercial tower has been opposed by the owners' committee.

The row could escalate into a broader headache for Beijing amid rising resentment over China's tightening control over the city's affairs and calls for universal suffrage.

The ability of Hong Kong residents to debate the June 4 crackdown remains a potent symbol of the city's freedoms and civil liberties relative to Communist Party-ruled China.

The museum, now being renovated by construction workers and due to open in late April, will feature photographs, a goddess of democracy and other documentary materials chronicling the crackdown.

The Chinese demonstrators built the goddess statue as a symbol of their struggle and it has been replicated at June 4 anniversaries in Hong Kong.   Continued...

 
A paramilitary policeman stands guard the Monument to the People's Heroes at the Tiananmen Square near the Great Hall of the People during the third plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic