The unrest in Hong Kong is spilling over into the Richmond community, as well as businesses around the world.
Last weekend, large, opposing rallies were held by pro-Hong Kong and pro-China demonstrations in Downtown Vancouver and at a Vancouver skytrain station.
Will Yu, a Richmond resident and pro-China supporter who was at Saturday’s rally in front of the Broadway-City Hall station, said the theme of the event is “love China and Hong Kong, no violence or separation.”
“People from Hong Kong are also part of our family, so we just want to express our love for Hong Kong, and we don’t want to see any violence posed by radical demonstrators.”
Protests began in Hong Kong last month in response to a proposed law that would allow China to extradite suspects or accused individuals from Hong Kong. The protesters argue this would allow Chinese officials to detain anyone from Hong Kong they thought poses a threat and have them brought back to China to stand trial.
However, Yu disagrees, arguing that the government of Hong Kong proposed the law to close a legal loophole which currently allows criminals to use Hong Kong as a safe haven.
“The extradition law isn’t meant to be used as a political tool to ‘arrest’ people, the motive of the bill came when a man from Hong Kong allegedly killed his pregnant wife in Taiwan,” explained Yu, adding that “lots of Hong Kong protestors perceived the bill in the wrong way.”
Ken Tung, a Richmond Fairchild Radio commentator, believes the protesters have reason to worry about the extradition bill, saying that if it were to pass, it “puts pressure on the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the justice system (of Hong Kong). In the future, people will not be put to trial in Hong Kong, but will be brought to China for court trials.”
Other Canadian Hong Kongers in support of the protesters, point to the two Canadians in China. Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been detained since December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at YVR.
The issue has also ensnared some international chain stores, particularly western brands.
Chinese citizens called out many brands in anger for their products that listed Hong Kong as an independent country, instead of explicitly labelling them as parts of China.
Versace and other brands, including Coach, Givenchy and Swarovski, responded to online criticisms by apologizing via multiple social media platforms after listing Hong Kong as a separate country on their products or websites.
Albert Hui immigrated from Hong Kong 23 years ago, and is branch manager of Chinese-language newspaper Today Commercial News. He told the News that it’s a fact that Hong Kong is part of China, after the UK ended administration of the colony and passed control to China in 1997.
Hui suggested that if foreign companies plan to open businesses in China, they should follow the rules and laws there. Otherwise, they will get entangled with problems.
Guo Ding, a current-affairs commentator in the B.C. Chinese community, echoed Hui in terms of big brands being aware of the laws in China as they enter the Chinese market.
Although, Ding wonders if some of the brands are just using their apology as a means of getting free advertising.
However, Tung thinks the whole thing has been overblown.
“To say that (major brand companies) are ‘insulting China’ and that ‘the brands are trying to break up the country’ is twisting the meaning.”