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China removes Tiananmen Square massacre memorials from 2 more Hong Kong universities

President of China Xi Jinping. (Kremlin/Released)
December 28, 2021

Following the removal, of the “Pillar of Shame” sculpture at the University of Hong Kong, Chinese authorities quietly removed two more memorials to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on Friday.

Radio Free Asia reported on Friday, that authorities removed a 21-foot-tall bronze replica of the “Goddess of Democracy” — a figure displayed by protestors calling for democracy during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests — that had been on display at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

Lingnan University in Hong Kong also removed or painted over multiple public murals commemorating the victims of the massacre.

Hong Kong journalist Kris Cheng tweeted, “Not even on a wall: @lingnanuni has also spray painted over a Goddess of Democracy painting above the student union office.”

The advocacy group Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong tweeted that Lingnan University also removed its 8964 Relieve Wall. “In what appears to be a coordinated effort, two more Hong Kong universities have taken down monuments commemorating the Tiananmen massacre. Following HKU’s takedown of #PillarOfShame, CUHK took down its Goddess of Democracy, and Lingnan University removed its 8964 Relief Wall.”

The removal of the “Goddess of Democracy” and the art displays at Lingnan University came on the same week Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities removed the “Pillar of Shame” in the dead of night.

Discussion of the Tiananmen Square massacre faces heavy censorship in mainland China but had previously been more widely discussed in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

The removal of three Tiananmen Square massacre memorials in rapid succession comes as part of a crackdown on public dissent since China imposed new security laws over Hong Kong last year. The new laws criminalized broadly defined acts of “sedition,” “subversion,” “secession” and “terrorism,” including such acts as waving Hong Kong independence flags or shouting pro-independence slogans.

The “Goddess of Democracy” statue was created by New Zealand artist Chen Weiming and had been on display at CUHK for 11 years. The statue had first been displayed at Hong Kong’s Times Square shopping mall before authorities removed it. Authorities eventually allowed the statue to be relocated to CUHK after a public outcry. A now-disbanded student organization known as the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China oversaw the transfer of the statue to the university.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was derecognized by CUHK and disbanded earlier this year, amid China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. The student union’s president Eric Lai had said in a 2010 speech, “If anyone tries to remove the ‘Goddess of Democracy statue,’ we call on the public to come to CUHK to defend it.”

As with the “Pillar of Shame” statue, authorities removed the “Goddess of Democracy” statue overnight, avoiding some of the potential opposition.

CUHK students and alumni still protested the statue’s removal by placing mourning offerings of white flowers and candles where the statue once stood and playing a cover of the protest song “Bloodstained Glory” by Anita Mui.

Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong tweeted, “How a candle can both defy and define the darkness. CUHK students recreated the ‘Goddess of Democracy’ statue in the form of candle light, after authorities have removed the famous statue from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photograph taken by Reuters reporter Jessie Pang.”