Tight security in Beijing on Tiananmen anniversary

Tight security in Beijing on Tiananmen anniversary
Paramilitary policemen stand guard at the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square near the Great Hall of the People, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests, in Beijing June 3, 2014.

SINGAPORE - Chinese capital Beijing was smothered in high security and widespread online censorship yesterday to quash any commemoration of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago.

China also rebuffed criticisms and demands from several countries and organisations to account for its actions on June 4, 1989, as well as to release activists detained in recent months for trying to mark it.

Security yesterday was tight at the square, where hundreds died when troops crushed the student- led protests.

The Straits Times saw soldiers, police and plainclothes security officers at the square checking identity cards and scanning bags, with numerous police cars on site.

Foreign news outlets in Beijing had been warned against news gathering related to the anniversary, with many foreign reporters stopped from entering the square yesterday. Beijing has also reportedly warned family members of those detained not to accept media interviews.

The run-up to the anniversary saw a vice-like grip on the Internet, including disruption of Google services and increased censorship of the Twitter-like Weibo.

But the freer semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong held an annual candle-lit vigil, which drew tens of thousands of people. Taiwan, claimed by China, held a similar vigil.

For many young Chinese, however, the day meant little, even if they have heard of the incident.

"In China, we don't talk about it or learn about this in school as the government restricts information," said Xi'an native Sun Qian, a Beijing-based Chinese teacher.

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