Last Wednesday, two groups of protestors turned up in Leeds City Square opposite the Queen’s Hotel to express their views about the protests in Hong Kong. They comprised of both people in favour of the Chinese government and those who supported Hong Kong’s quest for greater independence with a number of those protesting being students who are currently studying in Leeds.
Students belonging to the anti-government protests were clad in black, while another group of students who support the Chinese government stood opposite across the street. Both groups protested for four hours from 2 pm to 6pm with flags, flyers and loudspeakers to make their views heard.
There was a palpable atmosphere of tension as the police stood beside both groups in order to ensure the safety of students and those involved. This was to prevent any possible violence that might break out between the two sides. Both groups were not allowed to cross the road during the campaign and needed to leave in a different direction after the protest was finished.
“Thanks to the help from the police! We couldn’t have a campaign without the safety support from them to get rid of the violence.”
“It was exciting to see more and more students join us later after they finished their lectures.”A student who joined the protest commented.
The protests were informative as people walked past and took the time to look through the leaflets handed out from both groups of students.
Leeds is not the first city to have a Hong Kong anti-government protest. During the last few weeks, reports showed that students in London, Manchester, Sheffield, and Birmingham have held similar events. All of the campaigns were non-violent, aiming to make more people in the UK aware of the chaotic situation in Hong Kong and to gather support for both sides.
Whilst the protest was positive in making people aware of the growing tensions in Hong Kong between protestors and the Chinese government, it may hurt the relationship between Hong Kong and Mainland China’s students currently studying in Leeds.
Images: Jian Feng