A former Hong Kong lawmaker, Nathan Law, has requested that authorities in London investigate a group of pro-Beijing organizers who attacked Hong Kong protesters in the city’s Chinatown area on Saturday, Nov. 27. Far from the political quagmires of East Asia, the attacks came after the latter confronted the organizers’ “anti-racism” rally in support of Beijing.
Clash in the streets
On Nov. 28, former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law posted on Twitter, “Yesterday, there was a crowd of pro-Beijing thugs ferociously [attacking] Hongkongers who countered their propaganda campaign in Chinatown.”
On Saturday, Nov. 27, dozens of organisers of a pro-Beijing “anti-racism” rally gathered in the streets of London’s Chinatown, targeting emigrants from Hong Kong.
The rally was organized by the Min Quan Legal Centre, the Monitoring Group and the Federation of UK Fujian Chinese. They are further supported by other organizations including the London Chinatown Chinese Association, who supported the national security law and the “patriots-only” legislature in Hong Kong.
According to a leaflet for the rally, the UK government used “anti-China rhetoric” that led to “violence against Chinese people and communities.”
The Hong Kong protesters criticized the organizers for ignoring the human rights abuses the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have committed in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang province, where Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities are being rounded up and sent to ‘reeducation’ camps.
The organizers in turn blamed the protesters for “heckling” them, claiming that their rally was a “peaceful anti-racism gathering.”
The arguments soon erupted into a brawl between the two sides. According to Jabez Lam, manager of the Hackney Chinese Community Services, a group of about six men had charged at the retreating Hong Kong group. Another account by an anonymous witness, going only by Natalie, said that more than a dozen people from the organizers’ side attacked the protesters, not only with punches and kicks, but with makeshift weapons as well.
Eventually, the police responded to the danger and defused the situation. Several Hong Kong protesters were sent to the hospital.
“A 19-year-old man reported being assaulted by a group of men. Inquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests,” the Metropolitan Police told the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Suresh Grover, director of the Monitoring Group, said that none of its members were involved in the chaos or were taken away by the authorities.
“We oppose any form of violence either by the state, social groups or individuals during protests. We believe in the right to protest and an extension of human rights in every society,” Grover said.
Victor Gao, professor at China’s Soochow University, said the Hong Kong group “hijacked” an official rally for their own gains and should be made responsible for most of the violence.
“They may have different political views, but they need to express their views by abiding by the rule of law,” Gao said.
The Hongkongers in Britain group shared their “strong indignation” over the attacks, posting on Facebook and calling for a police investigation.
“This violence by a totalitarian system against people here in the UK… is a de-facto extension of the repressive Hong Kong national security law over vulnerable groups in exile, trampling all over British judicial sovereignty,” the group said.
Call to action
Nathan Law expressed that the UK authorities need to investigate the organizers of the rally for any connections to the CCP, and those who might have used counter foreign infiltration tactics to provoke the violence.
“Of course, it’s indispensable to address the problems of racial-based hate crime. But the speakers kept equating criticism on China to stirring hate to Chinese people,” Law wrote.
Nathan Law fled Hong Kong in 2020 after he was “exposed to severe political persecution.” He was granted asylum in the UK by the Home Office. He is creating the Umbrella Community, a new organization inspired by the 2014 “umbrella movement” in Hong Kong, to help Hongkongers in exile.
Co-organizers of the Monitoring Group have denied any connections to the CCP, with the group telling Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the rally was in “response to ethnic violence and hate crimes against East Asians.”
According to the SCMP, experts have also weighed in the possibilities of more confrontations between pro-Beijing groups and Hong-Kong immigrants, as the latter faces insecurity in their new home due to the hostilities.
According to Hongkongers in Britain founder Simon Cheng, the CCP’s United Front Work Department’s infiltration via its supporting groups have eluded public attention.
“[The CCP] is taking advantage of the rise in discrimination against people of Chinese descent since the pandemic began, not just cultural prejudice, but political bias of the Western media against the Chinese government,” Cheng said.
According to British police, at least 267 hate crimes against Chinese and other individuals of Asian descent were reported in the first three months of 2020, compared to 375 in the entirety of 2019.
A vote in the UK’s House of Commons is planned for December over the extension of the country’s British National Overseas (BNO) passport eligibility for younger Hongkongers, which would allow them to live, work and study in the UK for five years before they can register for citizenship.
The BNO passport system has seen around 90,000 applications from passport holders, who are in danger of repercussions for their participation in protests.
Pro-Beijing media campaigns have attempted to support the communist government to spread misinformation throughout the world, even in the U.S..