89/64: China stocks reference Tiananmen anniversary... again

Hong Kong (AFP) –


As the world marked the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on Tuesday Chinese stocks once again referenced the event, with two Hong Kong indexes closing at lunch with figures that might prove a little awkward.

In the run up to each anniversary China's censors scrub the web of references to the deadly event both direct and esoteric, including any numerical hints to its date: June 4, 1989.

That means the numbers 4, 6 and 89 are especially controversial this time of year.

But on Tuesday, Hong Kong's stock exchange threw a numerical cat among the pigeons.

At the lunchtime trading break the Hang Seng's main index was down 89.05 points while its China Enterprises Index, which tracks shares of companies incorporated in mainland China, was 64.34 points lower.

It is not the first time traders have inadvertently side-stepped the annual purging of these politically combustible numbers.

In 2012, China's censors went into overdrive when the Shanghai index fell an even more eye-catching 64.89 points on the 23rd anniversary of Tiananmen.

Web searches inside China for "stock market", "Shanghai stock", "Shanghai stock market" and "index" were swiftly blocked, prompting much online merriment.