Ms. Wong said she expected this year’s vigil to be banned over social-distancing regulations, though she suspected it was an excuse to prohibit a political gathering. She plans to attend a smaller open-air discussion and light candles in her community to commemorate the event.
Attendance at past vigils has risen and fallen from year to year, often in line with broader public sentiment toward China’s central government. Younger activists have organized alternative commemorations, saying the calls for a democratic China were disconnected from Hong Kong’s own political struggles.
Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy lawmaker, said that though he had once questioned the value of the annual vigil, he intended to walk toward Victoria Park on Thursday despite the police ban. “The world has to see the lighthouse of memory standing tall at Victoria Park this year, more than any other year,” he wrote on Facebook.
Han Dongfang, a Tiananmen protest leader who spent almost two years in prison after the crackdown, has regularly attended the vigils since he was expelled to Hong Kong in 1993. He said he, too, would go to Victoria Park with his children, despite the police restrictions.
“I don’t mind if other people don’t go, if it is not an official event or demonstration or protest,” said Mr. Han, who runs a workers’ rights organization, the China Labor Bulletin. “To me it’s a symbolic place and a symbolic day to commemorate this for my children. I want them to know.”
In Macau, the only other place in China where Tiananmen is publicly commemorated, the authorities revoked permission last month for an annual photo exhibition of the crackdown. Democracy advocates there said they suspected that the move, which was described as part of a standardization of the use of public spaces, was an effort to clamp down on dissent.
Like Hong Kong, Macau operates as a part of China but with its own local system. In practice, it is far more politically constrained than Hong Kong.
Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May reported from Hong Kong and Javier C. Hernández from Taipei, Taiwan.