- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

BEIJING — China tightened security around Tiananmen Square yesterday to prevent memorials on the anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. But in Hong Kong, tens of thousands of protesters staged a candlelight rally.

Tiananmen Square, the symbolic political heart of China, was open to the public. But extra carloads of police watched tourists on the vast plaza, where weeks of student-led demonstrations that drew tens of thousands ended in a military crackdown 16 years ago. Troops killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of protesters that day.

There was no public mention of the anniversary in China nor any sign of attempts to commemorate it.

The United States used the anniversary to press Beijing for a full accounting of the dead, missing and detained from what it called the “brutal and tragic” events of 1989, and demanded that China generally show greater respect for internationally recognized human rights.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States remembered the many Chinese citizens killed, detained or missing in connection with the protests. In addition to those who died, thousands of Chinese were arrested and sentenced without trial, and as many as 250 still languish in prison for Tiananmen-related activities, he said.

“We call on the Chinese government to fully account for the thousands killed, detained or missing, and to release those unjustly imprisoned,” Mr. McCormack said.

“It is now time for the Chinese government to move forward with a re-examination of Tiananmen and give its citizens the ability to flourish by allowing them to think, speak, assemble and worship freely. We continue to urge China to bring its human rights practices into conformity with international standards and law,” he said.

In Singapore, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld criticized China for increasing military spending despite the absence of a threat from another country and said the Asian power risks diminishing its global influence unless it opens up its political system.

“The implication that freedom means destabilization, I believe, is incorrect,” Mr. Rumsfeld said in response to a question from a participant in an Asian security conference.

The day was especially sensitive because it followed the death in January of Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist Party leader who was purged in 1989 for sympathizing with the protesters.

In Hong Kong, a crowd estimated by organizers at 30,000-40,000 raised candles in the air in Victoria Park and sang solemn songs in the only large-scale memorial on Chinese soil. They carried signs that read: “Don’t forget June 4” and “Democracy fighters live forever.”

The former British territory retains many of its Western-style civil liberties — a status that many there say obligates them to speak out while those on the mainland cannot.

“Hong Kong people will not forget this history when a government uses guns and tanks to crush students. It’s very atrocious,” said Shum Ming, a 58-year-old construction worker.

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