29 February 2020
Numbers don't lie: Tens of thousands join the candlelight vigil for the Tiananmen victims at Victoria Park on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters
Numbers don't lie: Tens of thousands join the candlelight vigil for the Tiananmen victims at Victoria Park on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

The numerology of Tiananmen anniversary

Even weeks before the event, China’s censors were already busy blocking text and images on social media that had a reference no matter how slight or indirect to the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy students at Tiananmen Square. 

They really spared no effort to wipe out the memory of that infamous day, the 4th of June, 1989. But 30 years on, people still remember, and will never forget, especially in Hong Kong.

And so more than 180,000 people, young and old, showed up at the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park on Tuesday to pay their respects to the victims of that night when People’s Liberation Army tanks and soldiers swooped down on the vast square to snuff out the youths’ protest, along with their dreams of democracy and freedom.

Their dream lives on in Hong Kong, where many feel that the “one country, two systems” principle is fast eroding as Beijing tightens its grip on the territory.

Last night’s turnout was the biggest since 2014, the year of the Occupy movement, as government efforts to rush the passage of an extradition bill raise fears that Beijing could use it to further undermine their rights and freedoms.

As to be expected, police had a much lower figure of those who joined the vigil: 37,000. But even that very conservative estimate was more than double the number they reported for last year’s event.

It’s not at all surprising that people in this city, an international financial hub, are obsessed with numbers.

In fact, some very perceptive – imaginative? – observers noted that even yesterday’s stock numbers, by some twist of divine intervention or magic, joined in commemorating the event.

By midday yesterday, the Hang Seng Index fell 89 points to 26,804 while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index for H-shares fell 64 points to 10,366.

So? Well, these perspicacious individuals insist, 89 stands for the year the event took place – 1989, while 64 refers to the month and date – June 4th.

If you look at the actual numbers down to two decimal places, they say, you will see a 30 – the 30th anniversary of the event. Where? There’s 3 in 64.34 points, and 0 in 89.05 points.

These numbers went viral among brokers, who insist that although mobile messages about the event were censored in the mainland, the heavens have found a way to mark the special day.

The hunt for symbolism in yesterday’s stock numbers also yielded this: Tencent Holdings (00700.HK), the largest technology company in China and the No. 1 Hong Kong stock by market capitalization, dropped HK$6.4 to HK$327.2 with a turnover of HK$6.464 billion. See the prevalence of 6s and 4s for June 4?

They insist these are not mere coincidences. It would be easier to guess the winning numbers for Mark Six than to wait for these figures to come up. 

In fact, it is not the first time that this happened. Seven years ago, during the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, the Shanghai Composite Index for A-shares ended the day at 2346.98 – 23 for the 23rd anniversary, 46 for June 4th, and 98 for 1989!

More coincidences? Or is it a day that the heavens refuse to forget?

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EJ Insight writer