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Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing politician in a rare attack on China over Tiananmen massacre

Posted by Author on June 5, 2010

By Tom Mitchell and Gideon Rachman in Hong Kong, The Financial Times, June 5 2010 –

The founder of Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing political party has spoken out against the Chinese government in a rare criticism of the brutal military crackdown that squashed demonstrations in 1989.

Tsang Yok-sing is usually one of the Chinese communist party’s staunchest defenders in Hong Kong , and his Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong – known as DAB – provides an important block of loyalist support in the territory’s legislature.

But in unprecedented remarks, Mr Tsang occasionally struggled to contain his emotions as he recalled the bloody events in China’s capital 21 years ago. “Everyone was shocked. If anything, being pro-Beijing we thought we understood the [Chinese] government so well,” he told the Financial Times. “We never believed a government we so trusted would turn its troops against the people.”

Mr Tsang, who also serves as president of the territory’s legislature, was speaking hours before more than 150,000 people gathered to mark the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre at an annual candlelight vigil.

Governed as a largely autonomous special administrative region where civil freedoms are still protected, Hong Kong is the only place in the People’s Republic of China where the victims of Tiananmen are openly mourned . Last year the memoirs of Zhao Ziyang , the former party general secretary who opposed the bloody crackdown on student protesters in 1989, were published posthumously in Hong Kong.

Bao Pu, who edited Zhao’s memoirs, said yesterday that he had obtained a rival account of Tiananmen penned by Li Peng, Mr Zhao’s hard-line adversary. In his account, Mr Li stands by the government’s decision to crush the mass protests by ordering the People’s Liberation Army to launch a violent assault.

Mr Tsang was the principal at a “patriotic” school in Hong Kong as the Tiananmen Square protests gathered pace in the spring of 1989. The massacre shocked the schools’ teachers and students who, Mr Tsang remembered, wept at the news. “It is difficult, it is difficult,” he said. “If you asked me has time changed these emotions we had right after the event, I would say no.”

“Long long ago I told myself the best way to commemorate June 4 – and make sure those who sacrificed their lives did not do so in vain – is to do what I can to help my country, within Hong Kong, to become more liberal-democratic,” Mr Tsang added……. (more details from The Financial Times)

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