The Communist Party of China likes celebrating anniversaries. It is already geared up for 2021, which will mark the 100th year since the Party’s founding. That event will no doubt be marked with endless, massive public events throughout China, most of them broadcast to the outside world.
Every year, amongst the rhythm of big and small celebrations marking this or that landmark, comes the one anniversary that the Party and state resolutely blank out, and parts of the rest of the world, including Hong Kong, equally resolutely insist on remembering. It has been 28 years since the tanks of two crack divisions of the People’s Liberation Army were ordered to roll along Changanjie in Beijing and into the vast public square at the center, Tiananmen, with instructions to simply “clear it.” As collateral, and despite many warnings, on the morning of June 4, 1989 hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people were killed. Information about the precise number of casualties, where and how they died, and who they were, has never been released, despite attempts by groups like the Mothers of Tiananmen and others.