China blanketed Tiananmen Square with police and security forces yesterday, blocking any attempt to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the crackdown.
Hong Kong had the only major commemoration of the anniversary on Chinese soil. Thousands were expected to attend events around the world
In a sign of Beijing's mix of confidence and caution, Tiananmen Square was open to visitors yesterday. On the 10th anniversary of the crackdown in 1999, it was closed to the public.
Hundreds of police and security forces were deployed there throughout the day. Police searched bags and the pockets of thousands of Chinese and foreign tourists streaming through checkpoints to the square, and foreign journalists were barred from entering.
People - many were visitors from outside Beijing - crowded the square to watch the dawn flag-raising ceremony. Many appeared oblivious to the sensitive date. There were no gestures of protest.
But some people came quietly to the square to mourn. "Today is June 4, so we came here to commemorate it," said a man surnamed Wang.
China has for days worked to prevent any public discussion or remembrance of the events by blocking access to social networking websites like Twitter, blacking out some foreign news reports and hiding away key dissidents.
Activists continue to press the government to address the crackdown.
"The Communist Party has to acknowledge the crimes that it committed," Qi Zhiyong, 53, who lost a leg in June 1989, said ahead of the anniversary, before being ordered out of sight.
Dai Qing, a prominent Beijing-based critic of the government who spent time in jail after the crackdown, said she was heeding a call by dissidents to wear the traditional color of mourning in a tribute to those killed on June 3 and 4.
"I'm wearing white," she said.