MSNBC's photoblog has pictures from Hong Kong this evening, June 4 China time, that are quite stunning. For instance, in Victoria Park a few hours ago:
That so many people would turn out, in a supremely business-minded community that has been legally part of the People's Republic of China for nearly 15 years, to observe the Tiananmen anniversary that is leading to detentions, tightened censorship, and crackdowns in other parts of China, is impressive and heartening. (It also is impressive and heartening that Hong Kong's legal regime remains independent enough to allow such demonstrations and comments, after these nearly 15 years.)
I stick with the argument that for most of the billion-plus people in the People's Republic, the past 30 years have been a time of increasing opportunity and prosperity, decreasing poverty, legitimately rising national pride, and overall improvement in civil liberties and the sphere of unregulated private life. But the contrast between the scenes today in Hong Kong, and the tightly patrolled public spaces* in Beijing, is a reminder of how much more the Chinese public can aspire to.
(Of course see Alan Taylor's In Focus feature on Tiananmen then and now, which includes a Hong Kong nighttime shot.)
* I have heard from friends in Beijing about controls in Tiananmen Square and other public places there today. For the record, I describe in my book the trouble I got into with the police in that same space three years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the crackdown in 1989. Indeed the black-shirted plainclothesman in this NYT photo resembles the ones I ran afoul of.
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