Over 600 protesters gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in London on 4 June to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
The commemoration was a far more left-wing and consistent one this year than previously. John Moloney of the civil service union PCS; Vicky Blake, president of the University and College Union (UCU); Pete Radcliff from the Labour Movement Solidarity with Hong Kong campaign; and other socialists spoke.
The message was quite clear: this is not a battle against “China” as a whole, but one against the repression of the Chinese state and in solidarity with workers and oppressed peoples worldwide.
In fighting against the Chinese state, we are not fighting the Chinese people, we are fighting the Chinese ruling class. And fighting the capitalist governments and corporations in the West who support the repression in China and Hong Kong behind (or sometimes in front of) the scenes.
There were a number of other protests to mark the anniversary. They are an indicator of the growing size and militancy of the Hong Kong diaspora and of a growing interconnectedness of the HK diaspora with Uyghurs, Tibetans and those from Myanmar.
In the past 32 years the biggest Tiananmen anniversary protests have been in Hong Kong. The biggest was in 2019, when 1.7 million people attended the vigil and march. Now the Chinese state has jailed people from the Hong Kong Alliance who organised the 2020 vigil and banned the 2021 one.
7,000 Hong Kong police were sent in to surround Victoria Park, the traditional venue for the vigils. HK Secretary for Security John Lee announced that anyone trying to attend or organise a vigil would face a five-year prison sentence.
Yet the day before, one of the few leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance not already in prison, Chow Hang Tung declared she was going to commemorate the anniversary. She was arrested at dawn. Another democracy protestor, Grandma Wong, was also arrested for holding a single-person vigil.
During the day, many followed their example. Students went ahead with a protest at Hong Kong University. Thousands of people, went out into the streets, often singly but joining up with others when it was safe, using the “be water” tactic popularised in 2019. There were arrests, but most protestors could avoid the police.
Hong Kong is still far from the terrified, uninformed condition that many other Chinese cities have been reduced to for now.
The Uyghur Solidarity Campaign followed up the 4 June protest with another on 5 June outside the offices of the giant HK-British corporation Swire. They voiced support for workers on strike in Hong Kong at the Swire-run Coca Cola bottling plant there, and for workers in Swire-owned Cathay Pacific Airways, which sacked cabin-crew union leader Rebecca Sy in 2019 for her support for democracy protests.
• For info on Labour Movement Solidarity With Hong Kong and the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign, see here