A mob of Chinese government supporters with flags and professionally produced signs surrounded a Christian church near Vancouver city hall Aug. 18, while supporters of Hong Kong’s democracy movement held a prayer meeting inside.
The approximately 100 Mainland Chinese followed their adversaries from an earlier protest outside the People’s Republic of China consulate mansion on Granville Street. The pro-China group occupied the sidewalk directly in front of the consulate and sang China’s national anthem, while the pro-Hong Kong group was across the street.
Vancouver Police officers closed 10th Avenue and guarded the doors at the Tenth Church, the flagship location of the Christian and Missionary Alliance affiliate. Several members of the younger pro-China group photographed the Hong Kong supporters as they left under police escort from the back door of the church.
One of the prayer meeting organizers, Chris Chiu, told the South China Morning Post that “this is bullying and intimidation” and that the pro-China mob trampled upon the rights of the worshippers to freedom of religious assembly and freedom of expression. The Chinese government supporters refused to comment and refused to provide their names. Several were cautioned by police officers after obstructing a reporter in public space.
Police also kept the peace on Aug. 17 when the two sides faced-off outside the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line station. There was concern about violence after messages on the Chinese WeChat social media service threatened harm against those showing solidarity with the mass protests in Hong Kong.
The pro-China group outnumbered, but did not outlast, the pro-Hong Kong side. Several China supporters arrived in luxury cars. Later that night, the nationalists took their flags and signs to the Granville Mall outside the high-end Nordstrom department store.
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