Red versus black: HK protests in Canada

August 19, 2019 14:29
Pro-democracy and pro-Beijing demonstrators hold rallies at the Broadway-City Hall SkyTrain Station in Vancouver on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Thank God, the mass protest in Hong Kong on Sunday was a peaceful one as police kept their distance from the demonstrators.

In Canada, meanwhile, pro-democracy demonstrators and Beijing sympathizers were just a heartbeat away from actual fisticuffs – or worse – as they gathered in the same venue to air their respective sentiments about the political crisis in Hong Kong.

About 500 black-clad people, adopting the color of protest in Hong Kong, trooped to the Broadway-City Hall SkyTrain Station in Vancouver on Saturday to show their solidarity with those fighting for democracy in a city more than 10,000 kilometers away.

However, to the surprise of the pro-democracy demonstrators, a larger pro-Beijing crowd was also at the scene under the "Love Hong Kong, Love China" banner.

Mostly wearing red shirts and waving Chinese flags, the demonstrators shouted slogans against violence and independence in Hong Kong.

According to a Sing Tao Vancouver report, the two sides even shook hands at the beginning, but soon their opposing views about what is happening in Hong Kong came to the fore.

The black-clad crowd asked those in red what they were fighting for or protesting against as both of them wanted peace and no violence.

But the red shirts started calling those in black "traitors" and asked them to remove their masks and sing the Chinese national anthem.

The black shirts would not take such taunts sitting down and started responding in kind. “This is Canada!”, they shouted. “Go back to China!” “Shame!”

It was not the first time that opposite demonstrations by Hong Kong immigrants and those from mainland China happened in Canada. This summer, similar protests were held in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Halifax and St. John's, although the one in Vancouver was the most tense.

Still, it's unlikely that differences between the two sides would erupt in violence. Despite their opposing views, they manage to hold their tempers and live peacefully with each other.

Besides, tolerance and mutual respect are the abiding traits that guide Canadians, although Beijing thinks that Canadian officials should mind their own business and stop meddling in the affairs of Hong Kong and China.

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EJ Insight writer