Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - Page 13 News List

United we stand

Hongkongers, Tibetans and Uighurs are set to march against Beijing’s oppression at this year’s UN For Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free rally

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter in New York

Hui said she wasn’t sure if the man was from China, but said he told her his father was born in Hong Kong.

“Literally I cried, because he annoyed me all the way, and wasn’t willing to listen to my point of view,” Hui recalled.

The question of identity is one that has been thrown into sharp relief as clashes between protesters and police continue unabatedly in Hong Kong.

Tensions from those protests have become palpable in the US as pro-Beijing demonstrators are increasingly showing up at US rallies organized by Hong Kong supporters, whose ranks include some mainland Chinese.

Brandishing the Five-star Red Flag, the pro-China groups often shout at the Hong Kong supporters, calling them “traitors,” and at times try to drown out their speeches by singing the Chinese national anthem.

Taiwan supporters got a taste of that treatment back in July when hundreds of pro-Beijing counter-protesters turned up outside the Manhattan hotel where President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) appeared during a stopover as part of a trip to the nation’s four Caribbean diplomatic allies.

Standing behind New York Police Department barricades, demonstrators held handmade signs, including ones that read: “Oppose Taiwanese independence” (反對台獨) and “Taiwan is China’s” (台灣是中國的).

Similar to the pro-Hong Kong rallies, they also waved Chinese flags and sang China’s national anthem.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOM

It’s unclear whether pro-Beijing counter-protesters will show up at this year’s UN For Taiwan/Keep Taiwan Free rally. While past marches have gone off without a hitch, some observers say that could change given the current climate and heightened tensions in Hong Kong.

The rally kicks off at 12:30pm in Manhattan at Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street with speeches and a Lennon Wall activity. Participants are then scheduled to march to the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China on Twelfth Avenue, where there will be additional speeches and closing remarks.

Like last year, large billboards will be towed by bikes in parts of Manhattan to raise awareness about China’s treatment of Taiwan, as well as the Hong Kong protests, China’s detention of Uighurs and Turkic peoples (which Beijing denies) and the jailing of Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk.

Hui said it’s important for all these groups to be allies, adding that the pro-Hong Kong rallies in the US have attracted a diverse group of supporters that cuts across racial, religious and ethnic lines.

“What we’re fighting for is human rights and freedom,” Hui said. “And that’s a very basic universal value that everyone should embrace.”

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