Twenty-four years after the Chinese government’s bloody crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen Square, Chinese officials have taken significant steps to erase it from public memory.

According to the UK’s Guardian, the country’s most popular microblog, Sina Weibo, has banned the words “today,” “tomorrow,” “that year,” “special day,” and many number combinations that could refer to June 4.

Chinese Communist party authorities, fearing a threat to their legitimacy, forbid open discussion of the so-called “June 4th incident” in the country’s media and on its internet. Yet internet users have reacted by using ever-more oblique references to commemorate the tragedy, treating censors to an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse. [...]

Officially, the Chinese government considers the Tiananmen protest a “counter-revolutionary rebellion,” and its subsequent crackdown – the declaration of martial law, troops firing indiscriminately at unarmed demonstrators – as necessary for maintaining social stability. Many one-time protesters have since been consigned to the margins of Chinese society. Some have spent long stints in jail; others have fled the country. A large number still face regular harassment by security agents.

On Tuesday, Beijing was both overcast and smoggy, the noon sky as dark as early evening. Volunteer guards with red armbands were stationed every 100 meters on Chang’an Avenue, a broad boulevard which runs past Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city. A group of Hong Kong journalists were briefly detained for filming at an early morning flag-raising ceremony in the historic square and were forced to delete their footage.

Also banned are photoshopped images like this one which replaced the iconic “tank man” photograph’s military tanks with giant rubber duckies:

Chinese censor internet searches for Tiananmen Square