Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said that most Hong Kong students are Chinese people, regardless of their self-identification.

Leung was responding on Tuesday to the decision of some university students not to hold any events in commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, citing a lack of identification with China.

“Most people in Hong Kong – including university students – are Chinese people,” Leung said at a regular media session.

CY Leung. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“No matter what they think, everyone – including the international community – will consider them to be Chinese people. Even if some Hongkongers hold foreign passports, if foreigners look at your name, cultural background and birth, they will still think you are Chinese regardless of your passports.”

Leung said “if the students gave it a thought, they should know that Hong Kong is part of China.” He urged every Chinese national to contribute to the development of China.

‘Freedom of expression’

The chief executive was also asked to comment on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. A day after Beijing’s violent crackdown on student protesters 28 years ago, Leung signed a statement “strongly condemning the Chinese Communist Party for butchering Chinese people.” He was the secretary general of the Basic Law Consultative Committee at the time.

CY Leung “condemns the Chinese Communist Party for butchering Chinese people” in a statement in 1989. File

In another statement, Leung “strongly condemns the Beijing authorities for their cold-blooded act of killing people indiscriminately” and “mourns the patriots who sacrificed themselves for the democratic development of China.”

CY Leung “condemns Beijing for killing people indiscriminately” in a statement in 1989. File

On Tuesday, Leung did not give his views on the event. He said: “Hong Kong has freedom of expression. As long as the means of expression are legal, people are free to express their different political views.”

On Sunday – which marked the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre – Leung wrote on Facebook discussing housing issues. He made no mention of the event.

Since taking office in 2012, Leung has avoided commenting on the incident. Last year, he said: “Hongkongers and the people of the country are attached by blood… Hongkongers should care about the major events that took place on the mainland.”

The Tiananmen crackdown remains a taboo in mainland China. The Chinese government censors books related to the event and blocks online searches of relevant terms.

At least eight activists who staged a tribute to the massacre in Hunan on Saturday were taken away by police the next day.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.