Steve Inskeep, China discussed on Morning Edition


Steve Inskeep today is June fourth the day in nineteen eighty nine when China sent its military against protesters Chinese troops massacred many people as they cleared Tiananmen Square commemorating this massacre is forbidden in mainland China but Hong Kong has held huge rallies every year to remember the victims until this year when police band of that activity although organizers say they're going ahead and peers Emily Fang is covering the story from Beijing either Emily Hey Steve why is this anniversary so important in Hong Kong well that you're thirty one years ago ninety nine hung was still a British colony and this all these protests in Beijing as a parallel of their own struggle at that point the other you can train it already agreed that in the future nineteen ninety seven Hong Kong will be returned to Chinese rule so the idea was if protesters in Beijing could create a democratic China then democracy might finally arrive in Hong Kong as well which we know didn't happen but after the military crackdown on June fourth Hong Kong served another purpose if you came this important town factual of what China could have been with some limited civil rights here's Joe from saw an activist who now lives in New Jersey but in nineteen eighty nine he was one of the student leaders and gentlemen I think out of Hong Kong show the odds are stacked up chime in spirit off the people yes this condo at the beach you hi it's represented to lawful street the ninety people that China could be different but in some ways nineteen eighty nine also sealed Hong Kong's fate that your Beijing and Hong Kong were drafting the conditions under which China would govern Hong Kong and Beijing after the Saudis tenement protests effectively took control of writing those conditions may include more stringent language on national security and the version that you see them citing today the lack of that candlelight vigil that Jones was just talking about in Hong Kong feels particularly existential this year because Hong Kong is now coming under threat from Beijing's control yeah and and of course the the very fact that they were able to hold this vigil at all this memorial for Tiananmen square over the years suggests that there has been greater freedom in Hong Kong what's happening now that the government the central government's cracking down that could disappear quickly there's this proposed national security law which would effectively criminalize all forms of dissent in Hong Kong that will likely be passed this month by Beijing and then today Hong Kong's own legislature passed a national anthem law which criminalizes people who make fun of China's national anthem that could maybe three years in prison now or a hefty fine lawmakers try to block that vote one was dragged out of the chamber the bill passed anyways so now we have this anniversary which has been marked for generations for decades anyway and in Hong Kong and that that that that commemoration is banned water people going to do after this behind the rally said tonight they're still going to congregate they're going to risk arrest and fines churches which has more the way when it comes to corona virus related social distancing guidelines say that they're going to hold some smaller private events across Hong Kong and people are encouraging other individuals to light candles in their home if they don't want to come to a public space so events are still going to go forward now other countries are trying to put pressure on Beijing to not pass this national security law US White House has said they'll revoke Hong Kong's trade privileges if the laws passed but Beijing will likely bear that cost and the United Kingdom the former colonial power that ruled Hong Kong actually set this week to open a path for citizenship for about three million Hong Kongers if the national security laws passed.

Coming up next