Tourists thronged Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Tuesday amid tighter-than-usual security, although most visitors approached by Reuters said they certainly were unacquainted with the bloody crackdown on student-led protests 30 years back or wouldn’t discuss it.
The Chinese government sent tanks to quell the pro-democracy protests on June 4, 1989, and never released one last death toll. Estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range between several hundred to thousands.
A man tourist in his 30s nearby the square, who gave his family name as Zhang, said he’d no idea concerning the anniversary.
“Never heard of it. I’m not aware of this,” he said.
An older woman applying the grout to a building close to the square’s south entrance said: “That’s today? I’d forgotten.” She quickly waved away a Reuters reporter when security guards approached. Her colleague, a younger man, said he had never heard of the events in the spring and summer of 1989.
The anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown is not spoken of openly in China and will not be formally marked by the government, which ramped up censorship in the run-up and quashed open discussion of the violence.
It also remains a point of contention between China and many Western countries, which have implored Chinese leaders to account for giving the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the order to open fire on their own people.
Security on and near the square was heavy, with no signs of any protests or other memorial events. Hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police were monitoring the square and its surroundings, conducting spot ID checks and inspecting car trunks. Thousands of visitors lined up at security checkpoints to enter the square, many carrying tour group flags.