Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China after police in Hong Kong barred an annual vigil in the city scheduled to mark the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. “If there is any doubt about Beijing’s intent,” he wrote on Twitter, “it is to deny Hong Kongers a voice and a choice, making them the same as mainlanders.” Hong Kong authorities cited public health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic to justify banning the event, which had taken place every year since 1990.
For some participants, the city’s commemoration symbolizes democracy. The June 4 anniversary is the most sensitive date on the calendar for the Chinese Communist Party, and talk of it is taboo in most of the country. But since reverting to Chinese control in 1997, after 150 years as a British colony, Hong Kong’s residents have enjoyed a degree of freedom and autonomy unavailable to citizens on the mainland.