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Tiananmen anniversary quiet in Beijing; protests flare elsewhere

Tiananmen Square In this story:

June 4, 1997
Web posted at: 10:31 a.m. EDT (1431 GMT)

(CNN) -- Chinese authorities kept a careful watch on Beijing'sTiananmen Square on Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of the military attack on student protesters that left hundreds, perhaps thousands, dead. Elsewhere in the world, however, there were protests and memorials.



A L S O


In Tokyo, several Chinese protesters led by Wu'er Kaixi, a student leader of the 1989 demonstrations who fled overseas and now lives in Taiwan, scuffled with police outside the Chinese Embassy. Two people were arrested.

Car

Hong Kong, which comes under Chinese rule on July 1, held its annual candlelight memorial to China's slain democracy protesters. Organizers said they expected the turnout at Victoria Park to be higher than the usual 30,000-40,000.

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong say they plan to stage the rally again next year, posing a critical test for China and the semi-autonomous government it has approved for Hong Kong.

Few traces of massacre left

Witnesses to the attack by the People's Liberation Army on June 3-4, 1989, said hundreds, perhaps thousands of Chinese civilians were slain. Chinese leaders say the claims are exaggerated.

Demonstrators

Most traces of the Tiananmen Square violence have vanished in the eight years since Communist Party leaders ordered the military to oust democracy demonstrators from Tiananmen Square .

A repaving project is covering up the last of the tank tracks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace bordering the square.

Many uniformed and plainclothes police patrolled the vast plaza on Wednesday. They checked some bags but otherwise did not interfere with tourists and international journalists milling around the square.

Instead of pushing for political reform, most young Chinese now focus on improving their career prospects, eager to take advantage of their nation's growing prosperity.

'Never forget June 4'

The Tokyo protest grew violent when a protester tried to slam his car into a row of police security vehicles parked outside the Chinese embassy, police said.

Wuer
icon History keeps repeating:
(224K/17 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Police used clubs to break through his windshield. The driver was dragged out, handcuffed and led away. Another activist was arrested as he tried to fight off the police.

Wu'er, who studied in France and the United States after going into exile, was not arrested.

"Eight years ago," he told reporters, "I was standing in front of the Chinese police. Now, I'm standing in front of police in Japan, a country that calls itself democratic."

Though the Japanese government was initially critical of the Tiananmen Square violence, it was quick to mend ties with Beijing and today maintains a pro-China stance.

Wu'er, still wanted by Beijing, warned that history will repeat if the world forgets what happened eight years ago.

"Please, everyone, never forget the day, June 4," he said.

Though he now lives in Taiwan, Wu'er said he hopes to return to China with other dissidents in a few years to start a political movement.

Reporter Karuna Shinsho in Tokyo contributed to this report.  
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