Security strict in Hong Kong, China on the occasion of the Tiananmen anniversary

TEMPO.CO, Hong-Kong – Security was tight and access restricted to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Tuesday, the 35th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown, as Hong Kong police arrested several activists, while cities in Taiwan and elsewhere prepared to crackdown mark date with wakes.

On June 4, 1989, Chinese tanks rolled into the square before dawn to end weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations by students and workers. Television news images of a lone Chinese man in a white shirt standing in front of a column of tanks spread around the world and became the iconic image of the demonstrations.

Decades after the military crackdown, rights activists say the protesters’ original goals, including a free press and freedom of expression, remain distant, and that June 4 remains a taboo subject in China.

The ruling Communist Party has never released a death toll, although human rights groups and witnesses say the number could be in the thousands.

“The memory of June 4 will not disappear in the flood of history,” Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te said in a statement on Tuesday.

Taiwan would “respond to authoritarianism with freedom,” added Lai, who was inaugurated last month as leader of the democratic island that China claims as its own.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters that Beijing “strongly opposes anyone who defames China and uses this (June 4) as a pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

Taiwan is the only part of the Chinese-speaking world where June 4 can be openly commemorated, with a commemorative event planned in the capital Taipei. Others are planned in countries such as Britain, Canada and the United States.

In Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, police officers have tightened security around the center of Victoria Park, where large candlelight vigils were held annually on June 4 before stricter new national security laws came into effect in recent years.

Police captured several people near the park, including an elderly man holding up a poster commemorating June 4, a Reuters witness said.

Another activist, 68-year-old Alexandra Wong, was surrounded by a dozen police officers as she held up a bouquet of flowers and shouted, “People won’t forget,” before being taken away in a police van.

Over the past week, Hong Kong police arrested eight people for sedition under a new national security law, including activist Chow Hang-tung, over what media said were online posts related to June 4.

“There are still forces trying to undermine the stability and security of Hong Kong,” Hong Kong leader John Lee told reporters, without mentioning June 4 specifically.

He also warned of the need to “be on guard at all times against attempts to cause trouble.”

In Beijing, an official website for the Tiananmen Tower overlooking the square