Tuesday last week marked the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Hong Kong residents played an active role in supporting the democracy movement that swept through China in 1989, and they came to the assistance of protesters both before and after the crackdown.
Hong Kong residents today still strongly support calls for China’s official verdict of the 1989 events to be overturned. The massacre took place a few years before the UK returned sovereignty of Hong Kong to China, and the shadow of those combined events is a nightmare that has never ceased to haunt many in Hong Kong.
In survey results published by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program on Thursday last week, 63 percent of respondents in Hong Kong said that they were in favor of vindicating the 1989 pro-democracy movement — the highest figure recorded in such surveys since 1997.
Hong Kong residents’ longstanding concern with the Tiananmen events is connected with their anxiety over Beijing’s tightened control of Hong Kong, its delay to making the chief executive and legislative councilors subject to popular election and the introduction of Chinese patriotism classes in the territory’s education system, which they view as “brainwashing.”
Hong Kong residents and Chinese democracy activists are passionate about seeing the 1989 pro-democracy movement vindicated because to them the massacre, which marked the end of the democracy movement, signified a bloodbath imposed on China’s political reform by the nation’s ruling elite.
As long as the event evades transitional justice, the project of political reform in China cannot possibly get underway.
Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General-Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) has taken over from predecessor Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). For a while, some commentators said that Xi would be a relatively bold reformer.
Xi’s meeting with Hu Deping (胡德平), son of former CCP chairman and general secretary Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), whose death marked the beginning of the 1989 democracy movement, gave people some hope that China’s authorities might finally reassess the movement.
However, things have developed in the opposite direction, with reports about the so-called “seven banned topics of higher education” detracting from the international community’s first impressions of Xi.
The seven taboos refer to issues that teachers in China’s higher education institutions have reportedly been told not to talk about: universal values, press freedom, civil society, civil rights, the CCP’s mistakes, the rich and powerful capitalist class and judicial independence.
Some people say that the imposition of these “seven taboos” signals a move to revive former Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) far-left political line, and it runs completely counter to the dream of constitutional government that ordinary Chinese people long for.
To put it simply, Xi still favors a one-party dictatorship, so the dream of vindicating the 1989 pro-democracy movement will probably have to wait. Further, since the Chinese themselves are not allowed to dream about constitutional government, those in Taiwan who want to adhere to “the Republic of China Constitution” or “constitutional one China,” are patently not just dreaming, but deluded.
Some well-established figures in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have proposed a resolution on human rights on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, which calls for opening a dialog with China, taking the people as its theme and human rights as its basis.