Tensions rose at a prayer meeting for Hong Kong which was surrounded by nearly 100 pro-China protesters on Sunday, resulting in police being called to the scene.
Chris Chiu is a member of Vancouver Christians for Love, Peace, and Justice — the group that arranged the prayer meeting at Tenth Church in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood.
According to Chiu, about 80 people gathered inside the church for a service supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy efforts.
“It started out smoothly and very very quiet,” Chiu told Daily Hive. “But then we noticed that there were a bunch of people outside surrounding the building.”
According to Chiu, there were nearly 100 pro-China demonstrators gathered outside the church.
Chiu says that eventually VPD officers were called to the scene to help escort the prayer group out of the church. Daily Hive has reached out to VPD for further comment.
“It’s very intimidating because knowing you’re surrounded by 100 people … [you’re] outnumbered and surrounded and the thing is that if it wasn’t for VPD, I don’t know if people were going to storm into the church. People were coming for a prayer meeting and did not expect this to happen.”
Chiu says that this incident has definitely changed the group’s outlook on holding future prayer meetings for Hong Kong or other causes “not liked” by China.
“Definitely if we are going to organize prayer meetings we will have second thoughts and think about security measures. That is outrageous and ridiculous because this is Canada.”
Weekend protests in Vancouver
Sunday’s clash came after a large demonstration attended by Hong Kong pro-democracy supporters and pro-China communist nationalists that took place on Saturday afternoon in Vancouver.
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.
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.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Chiu heard chants from protesters. Chiu had stated he heard chants at other protests, but not at this particular incident.
With files from Kenneth Chan
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