Generation gap on Tiananmen liability

Generation gap on Tiananmen liability

Attitudes towards the June 4 crackdown depend on age, with younger people more likely to demand justice

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A candlelight vigil takes place in Hong Kong every year to remember the dead.
A candlelight vigil takes place in Hong Kong every year to remember the dead.
Photo: AFP

While organisers expected up to 200,000 to gather in Hong Kong last night to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown, a survey has revealed that more young Hongkongers are demanding justice over the issue.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the June 4 incident.

The University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme interviewed 1,000 people from May 17 to 22 about their attitude towards the crackdown on June 4, 1989. It found that the younger the participant, the more likely they were to believe that the central government was wrong and the more likely they were to support a change in the official government position on the incident.

HKU pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the result probably reflected the demand for democracy among the younger generation.

Baptist University student Elise Choi, 20, agrees: "After all these protests, the government should not conceal [the incident] any more, and say something about it to ease the tensions between them and the people."

Student Joy Pamnani, 15, adds: "I support what the students did in 1989 … I think Hong Kong could set a good example. The fact that we've had candlelight vigils shows that we care and are calling for Beijing to reconsider its human rights situation."

Overall, the mainstream opinion in Hong Kong remains strongly critical of the government's actions in 1989, the survey revealed. However, Chung said, the number of people who supported the students and were demanding the incident be officially reassessed has dropped by a large amount in recent years.

And fewer Hongkongers still believe that the city has a responsibility to promote democracy in China. That figure is at an all-time low since the survey began, says Chung.

Additional reporting by YP cadet Sonali Gidwani

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