Why you need to know: The Tiananmen Square Massacre anniversary is a reminder that defending freedom and human rights against tyranny is a common responsibility—and in our best interest.
The News Lens
Date: June 4, 2016
By: J. Michael Cole
Once again this year, the Hong Kong Federation of Students has announced it will not participate
in the June 4 candlelight vigil in Victoria Park, the annual event organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre, in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed protesters were brutally murdered by the Chinese military in 1989.
A deepening pro-localization sentiment combined with rising Beijing-skepticism among Hong Kong’s youth appear to be the main reasons behind the federation’s decision to not involve itself in the vigil, which every year has attracted tens of thousands of residents in Hong Kong. For the young people who fall in that category and who do not see a common future with China, the human rights situation in China proper may be worrying, but ultimately it is not their problem, and certainly not their responsibility to fix. For some of them, the June 4 commemorations are “meaningless.”
A similar phenomenon has long existed in Taiwan, where the consolidation of a distinct Taiwanese consciousness has contributed to an erosion of support for the cause of human rights in China. Linguistic and cultural affinities not withstanding, for most people in Taiwan, China is a foreign country, and while Beijing’s track record on human rights may be deplorable (and in some respects it is getting worse), it is none of their business. The dwindling numbers of participants at the annual June 4 vigil at Liberty Square in Taipei, with a few hundred people gathering in recent years, may well be the result of such developments in Taiwanese identity. [FULL STORY]