Tens of thousands gathered in a Hong Kong park yesterday to remember the dead on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown - the only major commemoration in China - as authorities clamped tight security on Beijing.
The White House called for China's Communist authorities to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the June 1989 assault, still a taboo topic for a nation that refuses to allow political reform in line with its dramatic economic transformation.
"Vindicate 6/4!" crowds shouted, waving banners as the candle-lit vigil began, AFP reported.
Lights were turned out as elderly and young alike raised their candles in the dark. The names of those who died in Beijing on June 4, 1989 were read out.
Hundreds of unarmed civilians - by some estimates, more than 1,000 - were killed during the June 3-4 crackdown, when soldiers on foot and in tanks crushed months of peaceful protests by students demanding political liberties.
"This event must be instilled in everyone's heart, we can't let time dilute this event," said student Anna Lau, 19.
People bowed to pay their respects as film footage of the event was shown.
Similar smaller events were scheduled in Macau and Taipei.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou described the events of 25 years ago as an "enormous historical wound".
Mr Ma called on Beijing to "speedily redress the wrongs to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again".
Likewise, the US will continue to "urge the Chinese government to guarantee the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all Chinese citizens", a White House statement said.
COMING FROM CHINA
Among the crowds packing Hong Kong's Victoria Park, named for the former British colonial monarch, were many from the Chinese mainland.
"I came here to take part in this vigil, because in China we don't have any rights or freedoms... so to express my views I have to come to Hong Kong," 35-year-old Huang Waicheng, an engineer from Shenzhen, told AFP.
"In China, there are too few people that know about (the crackdown)."
Many foreign news outlets have received warnings from police and the foreign ministry against newsgathering related to the anniversary or risk "serious consequences", including possible revocation of their visas.