The world’s largest monument to the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre has been unveiled in the US, 100 days ahead of the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.

Around 200 people attended an unveiling ceremony next to Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on Saturday.

The number 64 on the sculpture represents the massacre which took place on June 4, 1989. The incident ended months of student-led demonstrations in China as the military was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died.

Tiananmen Massacre monument US
Tiananmen Massacre monument in the US. Photo: VOA.

Chen Weiming, a Chinese-born artist who created the sculpture, told Voice of America that the piece was 6.4 metres in height, with a 2.5 metre-tall base – making it 8.9 metres tall in total. He said the location of the sculpture was located 6,400 miles from Beijing and was placed at a 64-degree angle.

“We don’t want to forget the tragedy on June 4 happened 30 years ago. It is the pain in Chinese people’s hearts. If we forget it, it may happen again,” he said.

He said he joined several friends in purchasing 36 acres of land at the location, intending to create a “Liberty Sculpture Park” to commemorate those who died in suffering under communist regimes worldwide.

The back of the statue will be engraved with names of more than 200 victims collected by Ding Zilin, a leader of the Tiananmen Mothers movement.

Chen also created a Tiananmen massacre relief and a replica of the Goddess of Democracy, which appeared during the ill-fated protests. After being displayed in Hong Kong in 2010, the relief was moved to the Lingnan University, and the replica of the Goddess of Democracy was moved to the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The ceremony was attended by Chinese activists Zhou Fengsuo and Fang Zheng, who both participated in the 1989 protests as students and later moved to the US, alongside other dissidents.

Fang had his legs crushed by a tank when the People’s Liberation Army cleared the demonstrations. Fang and his family arrived in the United States in 2009 and he was granted asylum the following year.

Fang Zheng
Fang Zheng. Photo: VOA.

Speaking at the opening, Fang said the sculpture made him recall those who were killed by the Chinese army’s tanks: “They don’t have the opportunity to see all of this. What we survivors can do is help people remember them,” Fang said.

The sculpture joins a statue of Li Wangyang, a Chinese labour rights dissident, and a statue of Native American leader Crazy Horse. The park is located at 37570 Yermo Road, Yermo, California.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.