Each year the Hong Kong Police and the organizer have conflicting estimates of the turnout, with the Police always giving a much lower estimate. This time, at least both sides agreed that there were more than 100,000 people attending, a pretty high number.
The vigil has multifaceted meanings – it is not only for commemorating those died in China’s student democracy movement in 1989, but also a testament to how much Hong Kong is bent to Beijing’s will. Whenever suppression of freedom of speech is perceived in the run up to the vigil, you can be sure that the turnout will be large for that year. The same happened this year. The new Goddess of Democracy statue planned by the vigil organizer to be displayed on the ground of Times Square was taken away by the Hong Kong authorities just days prior to the vigil, citing a preposterous entertainment related rule. This obviously had angered the public.So the June 4 candlelight vigil is a very Hong Kong phenomenon, not only because it is the only Chinese city to be allowed an event staged in commemoration of June 4, but also because it reveals the city’s hidden aspirations beneath a normally business city.
And, if you come next year to witness the event, do enter the park well before 8pm, the official commencement time. Otherwise, you will find yourself among a big crowd barred from entering because of overflow of people in the park already.