Tiananmen Square Massacre, 30 years on.

June 4th or Lok Sei in Cantonese, means only one thing to those who know what happened 30 years ago today in Tiananmen Square, in what was then Peking. For millions of Chinese people in the mainland today , it is just another day because of vigorous government censorship but for millions more it is a day when they hope answers will finally come and they will have vindication.

My story

I remember it being on the evening news. Whenever you heard Kate Adie’s voice, you knew it was something to pay attention to. She had been reporting for a while on the student protests but when, on the evening of June 3rd she reported about shots being fired and chaos erupting, I sat up and listened. I was getting married in July of that year and I’d been trying to take note of special events that were happening. I never envisaged this would be one of them.

“Tell the World What is Happening”

Michael Burke was presenting the BBC news and he interviewed Kate Adie, the emotion in her voice says it all.

The view from Hong Kong

My family and I lived in Hong Kong for twelve years. I’m ashamed to say that only when we were leaving did I realise I’d never attended the vigil so in 2013, I donned my rainmac and joined the crowds.

Old and young, Chinese and non-Chinese, first-timers and annual supporters alike marched through the summer rain and converged on Victoria Square in Causeway Bay.

30 years on, what do people who were there think?

What’s the future?

In 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China after the handover from Britain. Hong Kong was promised ‘One Country, Two Systems’ but the freedoms that exist in Hong Kong today are being eroded and censorship is happening in a very real and obvious way. I’m not a journalist or an intellectual, so I cannot write accurately about these changes, but they are real. The most recent confrontation with the mainland has been about the propsed extradition laws that would allow people to be sent to the mainland for trial. Here’s what Reuters has to say. Today of all days, when people of Hong Kong march and remember the June 4th massacre, Chief Executive, Carrie Lam says “how can I retract this important piece of work because of criticism, including ad hominem criticism.” A friend who is at the vigil as I write this blog says “I would not be surprised if the protest is forbidden in HK in 10 years’ time. Lest we forget.”

Want to see how it went in Hong Kong this year?

The South China Morning Post is the go-to newspaper in the English language in Hong Kong but it too is subject to censorship. Recently a new paper has spring up, Hong Kong Free Press. Click here to see how they are reporting today’s events.

Finally

In October of this year, the world will mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. How people in China and Chinese people all over the world must hope that one day, they too will have the freedom to decide their own destiny. Economic freedom that has happened in China over the last 30 years must be followed by political reform. When that does happen, we must all fight to keep it. Today in the UK, people are marching against Donald Trump as he makes a state visit to the United Kingdom. It is one thing to honour the office of President of the United States, it is another when that person dishonours his own citizens and is complicent in taking away their freedoms and rights. Freedom has to be fought for over and over again and never taken for granted.

Week 16 : In the dark

Although the UK is still officially on British Summer Time, the nights are definitely drawing in and there’s a chill in the air. The leaves are at the end of their autumn showing and rainy days are increasing; autumn is almost over and summer is a distant memory. As I mentioned last week, I have missed the UK’s changing seasons.  Hong Kong can sometimes feel like one long season, leaves don’t fall off trees (much) and although the temperature changes from summer to winter, spring and autumn almost don’t exist. The other big change between UK and HK is the day and night cycle. Next weekend the UK will put the clocks back an hour so we will be back on Greenwich Mean Time which means it will get dark around tea time and the sun won’t be up before I’ve had my breakfast (ok, so I’m not an early riser). Day light hours will be short, not giving the air time to warm up; I’m not looking forward to the cold, dark days of winter. In Hong Kong, it gets dark around 7pm in the summer and around 6pm in the winter so no real change.

I’m also now living in the countryside not the city which gives me wonderful open views in the daytime but makes for very dark nights. Let me show you what I mean.

This is my night time view from our old apartment in Hong Kong.

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This is the night time view from our house in Sussex, can you see anything? No? Me neither!

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I’m feeling rather closed in! Light pours out of high rises in Hong Kong. My nearest city, Brighton, doesn’t really have high rise buildings so although on street level there is plenty of light, it feels like the sky starts closer to the ground because of the lack of lights higher than say 10 storeys. Not good, not bad just different.

However, in two weeks the sky will light up all over the UK as we celebrate Bonfire Night! Watch out for that post, sparks may fly 😉

Next week, we shall all be in Johannesburg and on safari! Forgive me if my blog is late next week, I might have upset a lion!

 

 

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