Hong Kong protesters confronted by Chinese students in Manchester
- Students from Hong Kong were confronted by Chinese students over the region's protests
- Conflicting opinions caused fustrations to surface on the 70th National Day of China
- Police dispursed the two groups following a standoff that lasted over an hour
The increasing tension in Hong Kong was felt in the heart of Manchester as students from mainland China unexpectedly squared off against students from Hong Kong at 7pm on Oxford Road, resulting in police intervention.
Chinese students were marking the 70th anniversary of Communism in their country. Students from Hong Kong were outside of the University of Manchester distributing leaflets drawing attention to the current political crisis in the former British colony.
The Chinese students followed the protesters down Oxford Road where the situation escalated into a loud standoff. Greater Manchester police intervened to divide the opposing parties onto separate sides of the street. A woman in a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat watched on in shock to see the international students face off wearing masks and waving flags.
Recent years have seen an increase in Chinese students studying in UK universities. Around one in five international students come from China making them the leading overseas student in Britain. They outnumbered the Hong Kong protesters on Oxford Road and made their presence heard with megaphones and songs from the mainland.
Separated by an international treaty signed long before any of the students were born, two sudents involved in the exchange (who wished to remain anyonmous) shared their opinion on the current events unfloding in Hong Kong.
One country, two systems
"China gave them freedom, the one country, two systems, we gave them freedom. Things are happening in Hong Kong, they broke their own subway, they broke public areas, they fight against local people, this situation would not happen in the mainland."
"I’m really sad to see the situation, I want it to be peaceful. I want the western world and foreigners, America and Britain to know that Hong Kong is part of China, forever."
"You can see the history, the UK controlled Hong Kong until 1997, but it’s come back to China, Hong Kong is our land and the citizens of Hong Kong are our people, we are the same, we are family, we should not fight each other."
"Our government and the Hong Kong government need to communicate with each other to make a more peaceful policy for both of us. We are all students, you can imagine our situation, one student from the mainland and one student from Hong Kong meet in the same classroom, but they don’t know where the other is from, they could be good friends, we should not let the policy issue destroy our relationship."
"Hong Kong has capitalism, but that won’t happen in mainland. The Chinese government gave them a great chance, that gave them the freedom to flourish and Hong Kong is famous all over the world, they’ve had a lot of choice and chances, we didn’t ask for one yuan from them. There are two areas, Hong Kong and Macao that have capitalism, but Macao know they are rich and have a good life so they won’t protest. Actually, I don’t know why Hong Kong is protesting."
"They always talk about the violent history 30 years ago, but we changed, we are peaceful now, we welcome them to come to mainland, we are the same, for example if Scotland wants to separate from the UK, is that possible? Totally impossible!."
The UK has obligations
"We want what is promised by the Chinese government and the British government in the Sino-British agreement that was signed in 1984 when handing back Hong Kong to China."
"The UK has the most power and the right to speak out because of the Sino-British agreement with the Chinese, so they do have an obligation to demand China follow what they agreed on… but since the Chinese are not going to obligate what they promised, they say the Sino-British agreement it’s a historical document but obviously it’s not the same agreement signed."
"The people of China are living in a closed country; they don’t have any information that the government doesn’t want them to have. If they want to search for ‘Hong Kong’ the only things they can see is what’s reported by the country, just like in North Korea."
"The country controls everything they can see, they think we’re trying to be independent and overthrow the Chinse government, but we just want our democracy and what is promised from the agreement. They think we have betrayed our country."
"We were a British colony for almost a hundred years, from that we gained human rights, democracy, freedom of speech, freedom to protest, but communism doesn’t allow for that as it’s too hard to control the people."
"Their harmony is to eliminate every different voice, our harmony is to have different voices and to respect each other, that’s the difference. It’s a fundamental difference that they don’t understand, we have our opinion, and we welcome their opinion even though we disagree, but that is how freedom of speech works. I may not agree with you, but I will die to protect your right to say what you want."
"Their freedom of speech is the freedom to eliminate someone else from saying something, that’s why they are here, to cover our voice with their voice."
Hong Kong is a former British colony handed back to China in 1997. It is run under a "one country, two systems" agreement that guarantees it a level of autonomy. It has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from mainland China.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.