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Hong Kong security chief criticises WSJ opinion piece on ‘Subversive’ art -media

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Hong Kong security chief criticises WSJ opinion piece on 'Subversive' art -media © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: University students observe a minute of silence in front of the ?Pillar of Shame? statue at the University of Hong Kong on the 32nd anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, in Hong Kong

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Security Chief Chris Tang criticised an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on a seizure by authorities of a statue commemorating Beijing’s Tiananmen Square crackdown on democracy protesters in 1989.

Tang said in a letter to the newspaper that the WSJ opinion piece, titled “Subversive Art is a crime in Hong Kong”, contained “groundless remarks” that mislead leaders, broadcaster RTHK reported late on Tuesday.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the letter and both the WSJ and Hong Kong’s government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Journal said in its opinion piece that the seizure by Hong Kong Police’s National Security Department of the “Pillar of Shame” statue was quietly executed and done without due process.

Tang said this was untrue and that officers took action with a court warrant on Friday and issued a press release on the operation.

“That the opinion piece presented the exhibit of the criminal investigation as an ‘artwork’ and the case as one concerning mere ‘dissent’ is totally misleading,” the RTHK cited Tang as writing.

The Pillar of Shame, created by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, is an eight metre (26 feet) tall statue depicting dozens of torn and twisted bodies that commemorates protesters killed in the crackdown in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The two-tonne Pillar of Shame was first exhibited at a Tiananmen Square commemoration in Hong Kong in 1997, the same year Britain handed the city back to China.

In 2021, the University of Hong Kong dismantled and removed the statue “based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the university”. It has since been kept in a cargo container on university-owned land.

The seizure comes weeks ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Hong Kong had traditionally held the largest annual vigils in the world to commemorate the crackdown but vigils have been barred by police from taking place since 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions.

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