Hong Kong supporters and China nationalists face off at Vancouver SkyTrain station (VIDEOS)

Aug 17 2019, 9:33 pm

At its peak late Saturday afternoon, as many as 2,000 people converged at the southeast corner of West Broadway and Cambie Street in Vancouver for duelling rallies between Hong Kong pro-democracy supporters and Pro-China communist nationalists.

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There was a heavy Vancouver Police presence outside SkyTrain’s Broadway-City Hall Station to keep both sides in order, and maintain access to the station and the area’s road traffic flow. Crowds surrounded the entire station entrance building, including the rear plaza to the south and a portion of the parking lot.

Duelling Pro-Hong Kong vs. Pro-China rally in Vancouver on August 17, 2019

Duelling Pro-Hong Kong vs. Pro-China rally in Vancouver on August 17, 2019. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

This was just one of a number of cities around the world where organized protests by Hong Kong supporters were held today in solidarity, with several countered by Pro-China groups. Some protests in Toronto and Australia turned violent when the groups clashed.

In Vancouver, the groups did not become physical, but it became a shouting match at times, with both sides hurling insults and slurs at each other. From the Pro-Hong Kong group, there were shouts of “free Hong Kong, “Hong Kong, add oil,” “free the 10 Canadians,” and “Go back to China,” with the Pro-China group returning with chants of “Hong Kong is China” and “China is your big daddy.”

However, there were also times when both sides claimed they love Hong Kong.

Pro-Hong Kong supporters wore black clothing and were decked out with Canadian flags, while the Pro-China supporters in red showed up with their Chinese flags. The anthems of Canada and China were sung a number of times.

“I’m here to do my small part and support my friends back home,” said Raymond, a UBC student from Hong Kong, told Daily Hive. “I have friends who have been out in the streets every weekend since June, the government doesn’t listen, and the police have been completely out of line.”

“The situation has made us really desperate… it’s our home and we don’t want to take what we already have now, our rights and freedoms, for granted.”

Duelling Pro-Hong Kong vs. Pro-China rally in Vancouver on August 17, 2019

Duelling Pro-Hong Kong vs. Pro-China rally in Vancouver on August 17, 2019. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

But even for Vancouver’s protest ‘standards’, today’s event had its highly unusual moments.

A number of vehicles circled the block throughout the protest, with its occupants waving giant Chinese flags and blaring the Chinese national anthem on their car stereos. Several of the Pro-China drivers were warned by police for honking and waving flags out their window, and at least one driver was ticketed for distracted driving after being caught using a smartphone behind the wheel.

Another driver, a Pro-Hong Kong supporter, circled the block several times with a giant British flag hanging out of the car.

The Vancouver protest ended at 8 pm as scheduled.

The Hong Kong crisis is now approaching its 12th week, after protests began in June over the controversial extradition bill. The movement has since expanded its mandate to entail a number of other demands including an independent inquiry on police brutality in earlier incidents, the resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam, and a full official withdrawal of the bill from the legislative process.

Additionally, the continued unrest also highlights pent up frustrations with Hong Kong’s social issues, namely growing housing unaffordability due to the influence of Mainland Chinese citizens migrating into the city, and fears over the future of Hong Kong’s autonomy and protected freedoms in 2047, when the ‘one country, two systems’ of governance negotiated by the British ends.

Early this month, an incident where protesters ripped off the Chinese flag from the flag poles on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and threw it into Victoria Harbour sparked outrage in Mainland China.

Ever since, Chinese social media networks have been trending with photo posts of Mainland Chinese citizens posing with their flag and using the hashtag “the five-star red flag has 1.4 billion protectors.”

Tensions continue to escalate in Hong Kong; there are confirmed reports of a deployment of a large contingent of the People’s Liberation Army to a border town of Hong Kong — a tactic of intimidation and an indication of Beijing’s dwindling patience over the inability of Hong Kong officials to quell the unrest.

Vancouver is one of the cities outside of Hong Kong that could be most affected by the worsening crisis in the former British colony.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians currently reside in Hong Kong, and the deteriorating crisis could potentially lead to a sudden mass migration of these residents to cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, and London.

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