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China on high alert on Tiananmen incident anniversary

Tiananmen Square, one of the most prominent tourism landmarks in China, was the site of student-led protests where hundreds died in clashes with the military on 4 June 1989. The event is unmarked in China. 

BEIJING: Tiananmen Square, one of the most prominent tourism landmarks in China, was the site of student-led protests where hundreds died in clashes with the military on 4 June 1989.

The event is unmarked in China. Online searches for terms related to the event are restricted to published articles by the government and state media and Google services have reportedly been inaccessible.

Political commentator Ding Qizhen said: "It's a nervous period because a lot of problems are coming together. For example, religious issues, faith issues and historical issues which are sensitive and give the government a lot of pressure.

“If we use ancient methods similar to blocking flood waters, it won't work in the long term. So can we use more enlightening methods... we can use more conciliatory methods instead of creating a tense atmosphere through law enforcement agencies arresting people who shouldn't have been arrested, which results in more contradictions."

25 years on, there is no relenting on the security on and around Tiananmen, and more so this year because of recent terrorist-branded attacks elsewhere in the country which left 63 dead and 312 injured.

Local reports showed long queues of passengers waiting at subway stations near Tiananmen Square - a result of more stringent security measures.

There is concern the additional safety checks could put train passengers at greater risk of attacks, since they result in massive human lines outside stations.

In response, authorities said checks would be scaled back accordingly during peak periods.

In the capital last week, as an additional measure, 2,800 security officers took part in what state media called the largest anti-terrorist drill.

But online pictures showed the exercises also involved the officers squaring off with citizen protesters.

Meantime, the Chinese government has also tapped hundreds of thousands of neighbourhood watch volunteers to look out for suspicious people.

State media said officials are offering a reward of up to 40,000 renminbi (US$6,500) for information that can lead to the tracking down of terrorist activities.  

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