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May Fourth and June Fourth Anniversaries

The second quarter of 2019 has been rife with political symbolism and significance for China’s ruling Communist Party, having marked the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement and the 30th anniversary of the June Fourth Incident (see Lanza’s op-ed in the present issue). The 1919 May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist campaign that grew out of student protests demanding the restoration of Chinese independence and sovereignty following the Treaty of Versailles. The protests soon spread nationwide, inciting fiery displays of Chinese nationalism. In recognition of the centenary of the May Fourth Movement, President Xi Jinping televised a speech from the Great Hall of the People in which he hailed the bygone students as patriotic heroes who were driven by their love for the nation. While the centenary of the May Fourth Movement was heavily propagandised, the CCP has maintained silence surrounding the 30th anniversary of the 1989 June Fourth Incident. In 1989, students took to the streets of Beijing to call for democratic reforms as well as more rights and freedoms. However, on 4 June there were few reminders of the violence that occurred 30 years ago, with security in the square being tightened and online social media outlets being heavily censored. Nevertheless, the stillness of Beijing stands in stark contrast to Hong Kong, where over 100,000 people gathered on the streets for a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of the 1989 crackdown. TS

(Sources: CNN; South China Morning Post; Sydney Morning Herald; The Guardian; The New York Times)

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