Hong Kong singer Anthony Wong – whose songs had been partly censored in mainland China – has written a new song to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Wong performed the song, titled “Memory is a Crime,” at an annual dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association last week.

Singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming. Photo: inmediahk.net.

“Society really needs journalists to report the truth and preserve our memory, because many people want to erase our memory,” he said. “Perhaps, in the future, it will be a crime to remember.”

See also: The Last Gunshot: The musical legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre

At an earlier forum, Wong said that the 1989 crackdown was not just a part of China’s history, but was also connected to Hong Kong. He urged the public to resist the urge to forget, because Hongkongers were used to giving up their voice and memory too easily.

“In Hong Kong, we can still perform songs to commemorate June 4, still say how bad the times are. That is what makes our work different from that of the mainland and Taiwan,” Wong said.

The Tiananmen massacre occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing.

Lyrics of the new song include: “If the candlelight is a crime, then we will spend decades in the dark,” “Even if memory is a crime, the truth will come out.”

The song also depicted the human cost of democracy activism in China, posing the question of whether the “world-weary youth” regretted the choices they made.

In April, netizens discovered that almost all of the songs by Wong’s band, Tat Ming Pair, had been removed from Apple Music’s China service.

Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Tat Ming Pair was an avant-garde Cantopop duo formed in 1986, and was known for songs that did not shy away from the politics of the day. Two of their songs released in 1990 were direct responses to the Tiananmen Square crackdown, and their past lyrics have included references to ex-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and dissident Wuer Kaixi.

The band was still able to perform in the mainland as recently as 2013, but in 2017, it had difficulties in finding sponsors for their Hong Kong concert.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.