Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents have joined a vigil marking China's 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, while Beijing police smothered the square to prevent similar memorials.
Organizers of the Hong Kong candlelight vigil say more than 100,000 people attended Thursday's event in Victoria Park marking the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown. They say it was the largest turnout at the annual vigil since it began in 1990.
Hong Kong is the only part of China where such commemorations are permitted as the city enjoys a high degree of autonomy from China's communist government in Beijing.
Beijing authorities kept Tiananmen Square open to visitors Thursday, but uniformed and plain-clothed security agents blanketed the area and no acts of protest were reported.
Washington urged China to account for the hundreds of people who were killed or went missing when it sent tanks and troops into the square in 1989 to crush pro-democracy protests.
China remained firm on its verdict on the Tiananmen protest and its aftermath. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters Thursday that the government had already come to a clear conclusion regarding what he called the "political incident."
At the time of the crackdown, the Communist Party called the Tiananmen movement a "counterrevolutionary rebellion," and it has not strayed from its verdict since.
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, expressed his respect for those who lost their lives 20 years ago and spoke in their defense. In a statement on Thursday, the Dalai Lama noted that those who participated in the protests were neither anti-communist nor anti-socialist.
In addition to stepping up security, China forced several leading Chinese dissidents to leave Beijing and confined others to their homes.
Beijing also blocked foreign media reports and social networking Internet sites such as Twitter, in an apparent attempt to prevent discussion of the Tiananmen anniversary.