Chinese police are out in force in Beijing to prevent commemorations of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. China has changed dramatically in the past two decades. Market reforms have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and transformed China into the world’s third largest economy. But dissent is still frowned upon and journalists have been prevented from filming in Tiananmen Square.
There are few signs of efforts to mark the anniversary within mainland China. A candlelit vigil has been held in Taiwan while thousands are expected to attend a similar service in Hong Kong to remember those who died.An American request that Beijing account for those killed has been ignored. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “We urge China to cease the harassment of participants in the demonstrations and begin dialogue with the family members of victims, including the Tiananmen mothers.” Relatives of those who went missing during the crackdown are still trying to compile a list of the dead, a job made virtually impossible by official intransigence. The Chinese government’s refusal to release an official figure for the number killed on June 4, 1989 is symbolic of its determination to conceal the truth of what happened twenty years ago.