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British Columbia Hong Kong solidarity protesters face off with pro-China group for second day in Vancouver

Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protesters hold signs as pro-China counterprotesters gather behind them during opposing rallies on Aug. 17, 2019, in Vancouver. Pro-democrats and pro-Beijing supporters held duelling protests again the next day outside the Chinese consulate in the city.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Tensions from continuing mass protests in Hong Kong reached Vancouver’s streets for the second day in a row, as two opposing protest groups faced off outside the Chinese consulate in the city.

A few hundred people showed up in front of the consulate in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, with those in solidarity with Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters condemning brutality from the territory’s police, while a pro-China group decried violence from demonstrators in Hong Kong. Similar confrontations also happened on Saturday outside of a SkyTrain station in Vancouver.

“Love Hong Kong, love China; no secession, no violence,” people from the pro-China group chanted, many waving the Chinese national flag.

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Across the street, a huge group of pro-democracy protesters, holding Canadian flags, shouted, “Hong Kong police, shame, shame, shame" and “Freedom for Hong Kong now.”

Tommy Tao, a former lawyer and part of the pro-democracy camp, said Sunday’s protest calls upon the Hong Kong police and the city’s government to conduct an independent investigation into police brutality.

“It’s obvious from all the news coverage of the situation in Hong Kong that the Hong Kong police has really gone far beyond the line in terms of the brutality that it has used the excessive use of force on the people who are protesting."

He added, if there is use of violence by any protesters, they should be sanctioned under the law. However, he said Hong Kong police have far exceeded what the territory’s laws allow within the police force.

Horton Lai, 20, wore an eye patch stained with fake blood at the protest. He said the reference – to a young woman who may be blind after allegedly being struck by a bean-bag round fired by Hong Kong police last weekend – was to denounce police brutality toward demonstrators.

But counterprotester Kevin Ye, a Canadian citizen who is originally from Shanghai, disagrees. He said the police are doing their job to maintain public order and some were hurt by violence conducted by protesters.

“They use gas bombs to attack the police. That’s called violence,” he said.

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He said the protesters in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory should present their requests peacefully.

Hong Kong has been in uproar since early June, when as many as a million people first took to the streets in protest of a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China – a move the protesters say jeopardizes Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Although the bill has been suspended, protesters in the region now demand greater democracy, the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and an independent investigation into the use of force by police.

Both sides at the Sunday protests criticized each other’s sources of information.

Mr. Tao said in China, the serious restriction on news and information cause some of its people to have biased and false information about the Hong Kong protests.

“My observation is that the vast majority of the Hong Kong people, including those millions who have gone to the streets in protest, do not seek independence,” Mr. Tao said, adding the maintenance of the “one country, two systems” philosophy is the fundamental request from people of Hong Kong.

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Ashely Yu urged some pro-democracy protesters to overcome the stereotypes of China and to watch news from all perspectives.

The 22-year-old international student said she supports the “one country, two systems” principle, but the protests should be done in an “appropriate” and “peaceful” way.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Benevolent Association in Vancouver held a news conference on Sunday afternoon, supporting the police and the Government of Hong Kong.

“We strongly condemn the extreme violence by the radical demonstrators and we strongly support the Hong Kong government to safeguard Hong Kong basic laws and Hong Kong police to stop the spread of the violence and the lawlessness,” said Hilbert Yiu, president of the group.

He said Canada is a free and democratic country, and both pro-China and pro-democracy protesters in the city have freedom of speech and freedom to express their feelings.

With reports from Canadian Press

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