While several hundred Macau residents, considerably more than in previous years, attended last week's candle-lit vigil of the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident, for the huge majority of the population the sorrowful event seems to be fading into oblivion.
The vigil was held on a plaza adjacent to Macau's main square, the Largo do Senado, where a pro-Beijing association held a colourful children's dance show at the same time.
The events each drew a crowd of about 400 people.
Liberal lawmaker Ng Kuok-cheong's New Democratic Macau Association, which garnered 6,332 votes, or 8.4 per cent of the ballots cast in the 1996 direct legislative polls, has held the annual vigil since the tragic events in Beijing on June 4, 1989. He has vowed he will carry on after Macau's handover to China, urging Beijing to abandon "totalitarianism and tyranny".
The US-based China Spring Magazine held a clumsily organised seminar on Beijing's concept of "one country? two systems" in Macau last weekend, after some of its participants failed to secure Hong Kong SAR entry visas. Wang Dan, who was supposed to become the seminar's crowd-puller, was unable to attend for reasons that remain unclear.
Taiwan's Eva Airways angrily denied claims by pro-democracy activists that it had cancelled Mr Wang's booking at the last minute.
Independent sources close to the seminar say that Mr Wang had never made up his mind to visit Macau, although he would, quite certainly, not have encountered any visa problems.
The seminar finally took place at a workers' welfare centre run by a Protestant sect, after first a hotel owned by mainland Chinese interests and then a Portuguese restaurant banned the roughly 30 participants from their premises, both claiming they had not been informed of the event's sensitive political nature.
Prominent dissident Wang Bingzhang asserted the two businesses had reacted to political pressure, describing the seminar's venue trouble as a violation of the principle of "one country, two systems" .
Mr Wang told the seminar he favoured the principle of "one country, one system" for a future democratic China.
This year's commemorations of the Tiananmen incident were a far cry from developments in Macau 10 years ago when some 150,000 people, or one-third of the population, took part in a string of street rallies in support of the pro-democracy protesters in Beijing, the biggest demonstrations in Macau's history.
A number of fugitive student leaders passed through Macau on their way to freedom in late June 1989, among them Wu'er Kaixi
hidden in a freight container smuggled through customs of the
adjacent Zhuhai Special Economic Zone.
The situation quickly stabilised in Macau in the late summer of 1989, when Lisbon refrained from strongly condemning Beijing for the Tiananmen incident, insisting that Macau's unique status as a Chinese territory under
Portuguese administration called
for a cautious approach towards
Macau Chinese community leader Man Man-kei soon expressed support for the removal of Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang and Governor Carlos Melancia paid an official visit to Beijing in October 1989, the first by a Western political figure after the
Beijing obviously appreciated
Lisbon's conciliatory attitude in
the aftermath by showing a much
more accommodating approach
towards Macau than Hong Kong
which in the eyes of the Chinese
leadership had become a base for
Many of the young students and professionals who took part in
Macau's mass demonstrations 10
years ago are now part of the higher echelons of the local civil service, thanks to the Portuguese
Just a few still participate in the annual Tiananmen memorial
Most appear to regard the tragic events a decade ago as bygone
days that no longer have a direct
bearing on Macau's political future.
The rest is history.
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