Hong Kong students and allies protested perceived unfair treatment of Hong Kong by the Chinese government outside the Forum on Tuesday, 1 October. Students were shortly joined by pro-mainland China counter-protesters and the two groups faced off in front of the Forum for at least an hour.
The two groups exchanged chants before being asked to stop by Estate Patrol. The groups cooperated, and after a short period of singing from the Chinese students the protest disbanded. At least one police offer was spotted at the scene.
The best thing we can do now is to raise awareness and get the world on our side.Hong Kong student
Hong Kong students and supporters were masked to protect their safety. Their reason for protesting was cited as to show solidarity with student protestors in Hong Kong, and they carried placards reading “Stand with Hong Kong” and “Fight for Freedom”. They also want to raise a wider awareness of the situation in Hong Kong.
A third-year History and International Relations student from Hong Kong told Exeposé: “Not many people know what to do when it comes to supporting people in Hong Kong. The best thing we can do now is to raise awareness and get the world on our side.”
The student noted how there has been a trend for pro-Hong Kong protests around the world to be met with mainland counter-protests, as witnessed in Exeter on Tuesday.
Chinese students accused Hong Kong students of wanting to divide China by becoming independent. One student said, “They insult themselves, they insult Hong Kong and they insult China.”
Another alleged that “they enjoy everything China gives them, but they are not satisfied.”
They insult themselves, they insult Hong Kong and they insult ChinaChinese student
Significantly, the protest was organised for the National Day of the People’s Republic of China (1 October), the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China.
The students’ movement in Hong Kong began following proposed changes to an extradition bill that would allegedly have put Hong Kongers at risk of unfair trials on the mainland. While the changes were abandoned in early September, protest has continued in the form of calls for democratic reforms and criticism of police brutality.
Tuesday saw mass protest in Hong Kong itself, where 269 arrests were made and at least one demonstrator was shot by police.