China Removes Tiananmen Square Memorial Statue in Hong Kong

Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
The “Pillar of Shame”, seen here at the University of Hong Kong

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • The Hong Kong University has removed a statue commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre.

    • The statue has been up for 20 years.

    • Every June 4th students would clean and honour the statue in remembrance of those who died.

  • Reflect On:

    What kind of message does it send that the Chinese Communist Party is removing monuments dedicated to the Tiananmen Square massacre?

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A monument memorializing the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed in the middle of the night Dec. 23, 2021 at Hong Kong University.  The sculpture named “Pillar of Shame” stood for over 20 years. It was a place for students to go and commemorate the lives lost on June 4, 1989 when Chinese government troops crushed an unknown number of students protesting for  democracy.

Workers taking apart the statue that stood eight meters high.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denies the massacre, which goes unacknowledged or commemorated in mainland China to this day. The internet is governed in China so when searching for information about Tiananmen square the only results are about the physical location of the place not the disastrous historical event.

The sculpture was created by Danish artist Jens Galschiøt in 1997. He has asked for it to be returned to him in Denmark, insisting that the destruction of it is destroying private property. Galschiøt has a permanent expulsion from mainland China, and two expulsions from Hong Kong according to his personal newsletter.

Source from VOA News

Earlier this year the June 4th Museum, commemorating the Tiananmen square tragedy was also closed down. It was reported that organizers of the museum who were a part of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, were arrested. Furthermore, items like a paper model of the Goddess of Democracy and pictures of large candlelit vigils for victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre were taken out of the museum. 

However, when you google search the museum online it just says “temporarily closed.”

These arrests and decisions undoubtedly are able to take place because of the National Security Law that passed in 2020 giving Beijing more power over Hong Kong. Before the pandemic there were lots of anti-government protests taking place in Hong Kong calling for a more democratic society.

Unfortunately with the passing of the National Security Law anyone that appears to criticize the CCP is at risk of being punished. This also contributed to the artist Jens Galschiøt not going to Hong Kong to help remove the statue.

Although there is nothing official on the HKU website under,  multiple outlets are reporting that the HKU Council said in a statement the removal of the statue “was based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the university.”

It is alleged that students have been seen crying at the empty space the sculpture once lived.

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