Artist Speaks Out After Hong Kong Universities Remove Tiananmen Massacre Monuments

By Olivia Li
Olivia Li
Olivia Li
December 28, 2021 Updated: December 28, 2021

After the University of Hong Kong secretly demolished the “Pillar of Shame” Tiananmen memorial on the evening of Dec. 22, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Lingnan University also removed statues and sculptures commemorating the pro-democracy protests on Dec. 24.

The bronze Goddess of Democracy that had stood at CUHK for 12 years was removed by workers dispatched by school authorities in the early morning. On the same day, Lingnan University removed a memorial relief sculpture and covered a Tiananmen Massacre mural.

Both were created by Chen Weiming, a New Zealand citizen, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. When the 6.4-meter tall bronze statue of Goddess of Democracy was shipped to Hong Kong for exhibition on June 2, 2010, it was received by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. At that time, the Hong Kong government impounded the statue twice with the excuse of drug investigation and obstruction of the streets. Some Hong Kong Alliance members were charged and arrested. Chen was also denied entry into Hong Kong when he arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport.

After several twists and turns, the Goddess of Democracy statue was finally displayed at the June 4th candlelight vigil that year. Then, in the early morning of June 5, more than 2,000 CUHK teachers, students, and citizens escorted it to the university campus, where it was erected on the green grass field next to the MTR University Station.

In that same year, the Lingnan University Student Union sought the permanent placement of the Tiananmen Massacre relief sculpture on campus, which was approved by Lingnan University at the time.

Chen merged more than 10,000 Tiananmen Massacre pictures into the sculpture, including tanks chasing students who were about to leave Tiananmen Square, the “Tank Man” standing in front of a tank to block it, and Beijing citizens riding bicycles carrying the dead and wounded to nearby hospitals. The relief sculpture was sent to Hong Kong together with the bronze statue of the Goddess of Democracy in 2010, and it was also confiscated by the police for investigation.

In response to the removal of his artwork from Hong Kong’s universities, Chen Weiming told The Epoch Times that he felt very sorry about the incident. Chen pointed out that the two universities accepted the sculptures on campus back then, but he was completely uninformed ahead of the removals, which was improper and may have violated the law. He also emphasized that the sculpture was only loaned out for the exhibition, and he is still the owner of the art pieces. He would consult with a lawyer on how to further handle the incident, including considering legal action. He also hopes that the two universities can keep the sculptures properly and transport them back to the United States for exhibition.

“This is likely the fate of such sculptures in Hong Kong. Under the National Security Law, there is no place for reasoning in Hong Kong, and the city’s rule of law is dead,” Chen said. “The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] does not even recognize the Sino-British Joint Declaration. I believe that the removals are a result of pressure from Beijing. If Hong Kong still has the freedom of ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong,’ the school will never take such actions,” he said.

The statues were removed at midnight. Chen said the people who removed them were “as sneaky as thieves.”

“Why didn’t they dare to do this in the daytime, in a noble and dignified manner? It indicates that they know it is inappropriate. They fear that they would incur public outcry,” Chen said.

He pointed out that the Chinese communist regime almost always arrests and tries dissidents before holidays when foreign media are taking vacations. “This is the CCP’s usual tactic,” he said.

Olivia Li