June 4, 2009 (c)
Enormous crowd quadruples the usual size of turnout
for a Tiananmen anniversary vigil in Hong Kong
The following is a blog post by Shanghai correspondent Malcolm Moore of the Telegraph:
Even before I reached Victoria Park for tonight's candlelit vigil, I heard it. My hotel looks over the park, and I heard the first shouts at 5pm, three hours before the event started.
As it turns out, the vigil attracted far more people than Victoria Park's six football pitches could hold - 150,000. Amazingly, more people turned up than on the first anniversary of the Tiananmen Square bloodshed.
It was a heartwarming experience to see so many people, all singing and waving candles. When you live on the mainland, you forget about the strong emotions that unite such large crowds.
If you wanted to snipe, you could say that local pro-democracy parties (HK has said there will not be full parliamentary democracy on the island until 2017 at the earliest) may have whipped people up. Perhaps the people were coming to sound off about local politics as much as to protest against Beijing.
And if they really thought about it, democracy on the mainland may not be in Hong Kong's interests - the lives of the Cantonese on this island are very different from those of mainland Chinese and their views may not find much representation in one unified state.
But at heart, these 150,000 people came because they feel deeply Chinese and because they felt a deep obligation to do something that mainlanders cannot do - speak freely and with emotion.