Exiled former lawmaker calls for probe into London attacks on Hong Kong protesters

The attacks came after the group challenged an 'anti-racism' rally organized by supporters of Beijing.
By Lu Xi
Exiled former lawmaker calls for probe into London attacks on Hong Kong protesters Pro-Beijing protesters confront Hong Kong exiles in a rally in London's Chinatown, Nov. 27, 2021.

A former Hong Kong lawmaker has called for measures to counter foreign infiltration by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), after dozens of organizers of a pro-China "anti-racism" rally attacked counter-protesters from Hong Kong in London's Chinatown at the weekend.

"Yesterday, there was a crowd of pro-Beijing thugs ferociously attacked Hongkongers who countered their propaganda campaign in Chinatown," former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law said via his Twitter account on Sunday, accusing the CCP of "trying to erode our democratic tradition to silence dissent."

Law called on the U.K. authorities to investigate the organizers of the "Stop Anti-Asian Racism and Reject the New Cold War" rally for links to Beijing, and to bring those who attacked the counter-protesters to justice.

"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.

A witness to the clashes who gave only the name Natalie said more than a dozen people from the organizing group suddenly attacked Hong Kong protesters at the scene, punching and kicking them. Some had makeshift weapons, she said.

The police were called and eventually separated the two sides, but some of the Hong Kong protesters were sent to hospital for treatment, as metal and wooden poles were left in trash cans after the crowd dispersed.

At least one person was taken away in handcuffs, while someone from the organizing group took several photos of RFA's reporter at the scene at close range.

The London-based group Hongkongers in Britain expressed "strong indignation" over the attacks in a statement on its Facebook page, and called for a full police investigation.

"This violence by a totalitarian system against people here in the U.K. ... 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.

Among the rally organizers was the Fujian Overseas Chinese Association, which took out advertisements earlier this year in pro-CCP newspapers supporting recent changes to Hong Kong's electoral system which ensure that only those deemed "patriots" by a Beijing-backed selection committee may take part in elections in the city.

Co-organizers the U.K.-based Monitoring Group told RFA that none of the speakers had any connection to the CCP.

The group said in a written response to RFA that the rally was planned as a response to ethnic violence and hate crimes against East Asians.

Taking advantage

Hongkongers in Britain founder Simon Cheng said there is insufficient awareness of the infiltration carried out by groups under the CCP's United Front Work Department overseas.

"[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.

"This is how they are continuing to mobilize people overseas; it's CCP nationalism, which expresses itself as the CCP's overseas propaganda effort."

The clashes came as Law set up a new organization to help Hongkongers in exile, the Umbrella Community, in a reference to the symbol of the 2014 Occupy Central movement and the 2019 protests against the city's diminishing freedoms.

British MPs are expected to vote in the House of Commons in December over the proposed extension of the U.K.'s British National Overseas (BNO) passport eligibility to younger Hongkongers, many of whom are veterans of the 2019 protest movement.

Some 90,000 BNO passport holders out of a potential three million eligible Hongkongers are believed to have applied for the BNO visa, but many of those at risk of reprisals for taking part in recent protests are currently too young to qualify for the "safe haven" route to the U.K.

Under the scheme, holders of the passport can apply for a visa to live, work and study in the UK for five years, after which they will be allowed to register for settled status and eventual citizenship.

The scheme was announced in response to China's imposition of a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, which criminalizes public criticism of the authorities, including pro-democracy writings and slogans deemed "secessionist" by China, as well as contact with overseas political groups and governments, or access to overseas funding.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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Jan 03, 2022 07:50 AM

Not supprised as in AMERICA,BRITAIN,CANADA and AUSTRALIA chinese students have ignored the law of their host country and attacked HK students as they legally protested. why has BEIJING or the foreign affairs minister not called out these law breaking students as a disgrace to the motherland? Or do we deduct they are not supported by the silence.