For the first time since the 1989 massacre, there will be no formal vigils in the Chinese-speaking world to mark the events of Tiananmen Square 32 years ago, when China used tanks and soldiers to crush protests by unarmed pro-democracy activists.
In mainland China, the group Tiananmen Mothers that represents victims' relatives published an appeal on the Human Rights in China website urging the party to heed their long-held demands for a complete release of official records about the crackdown, compensation for those killed and injured, and for those responsible to be held to account. Security was increased in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing on Friday morning, with police checking pedestrians' IDs and tour buses shuttling Chinese tourists as on any other day.
Chinese officials say the country's rapid economic development in the years since what they call the "political turmoil" of 1989 proves that decisions made at the time were correct. Along with the deaths of protesters and ordinary citizens, the events of 1989 caused considerable upset within the Communist Party, with the reformist general secretary, Zhao Ziyang, removed from office and placed under house arrest until his death in 2005.
Police sources have told RTHK that up to 7,000 officers will be deployed to handle potential June 4 gatherings, with around 3,000 officers sent to guard Victoria Park. Taking part in an illegal gathering carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.
"From the bottom of my heart, I must say I believe Hong Kong is still a very safe and free city", senior superintendent Liauw Ka-kei told reporters, adding that police had no option but to enforce the law.
The Pillar of Shame at Victoria Park in Hong Kong commemorates victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
"Turn on the lights wherever you are - whether on your phone, candles or electronic candles", she had posted on Facebook a day before her arrest.
"In cleaning the Pillar of Shame, we shall learn how our predecessors defended the freedom of expression before, and we shall not easily give up", said Charles Kwok, the president of the students' union.
After the ban was announced, Chow had encouraged people to privately commemorate the event by lighting a candle wherever they are.
Last year's vigil was also denied permission because of the pandemic, but thousands defied the ban and rallied inside the park anyway.
Police confirmed two people - Chow and a 20-year-old male - had been arrested on suspicion of publicising an unlawful assembly through social media posts.
Two other key members of the Hong Kong Alliance - Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho - are behind bars for joining unauthorized assemblies in 2019.
Chow had earlier said she planned to go to Victoria Park in a personal capacity to light a candle for the victims.
Joshua Wong was one of four activists jailed in May and given a 10-month sentence, but was already serving time for other offenses. "If I continue my activism in pushing for democracy in Hong Kong and China, surely they will come after me at some point, so it's sort of expected".
China on Friday ripped into the United States' human rights record and told Washington to "look in the mirror" after America's top diplomat said he would honour those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
"This will be the first June 4 since the National Security Law".
Beijing's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, bypassed Hong Kong's local legislature in late May 2020 to enact the legislation that would criminalize activities connected to subversion, succession, terrorism, and foreign interference. Authorities then raised a warning flag to alert gathering crowds to disperse or risk arrest. Most are denied bail and face up to life in prison if convicted.
In democratically-ruled Taiwan, a memorial pavilion will be set up in Taipei's Liberty Square, where people can lay down flowers while following social distancing.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement of support for those advocating for victims and pursuing the truth about the events.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said America stands with the people of China in their fight for human rights, adding that US honours "the sacrifices of those killed 32 years ago, and the courageous activists who carry on their efforts today in the face of ongoing government repression".