Hong Kong protests: pro-Beijing and anti-government camps attempt to outsing each other at IFC Mall in Central

Sum Lok-kei

Hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters confronted anti-government protesters at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Thursday, with both sides attempting to outsing each other.

Before 1pm, hundreds of pro-Beijing protesters gathered on the atrium of IFC Mall in Central. They were responding to an online call to stage a patriotic flash mob.

Many brought national flags and sang the Chinese anthem and other patriotic songs.

A giant Chinese flag was unfurled from an upper floor of the mall.

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The pro-Beijing supporters also chanted slogans, including: “Hong Kong is China’s”; “China-Hong Kong add oil”; and “support Hong Kong police”.

One attendee in a Chinese national flag T-shirt called on people to fight the “rioters”.

“Rioters, come on, let’s fight,” he shouted.

An organiser of the pro-Beijing flash mob, who wished not to be named due to fears of online bullying, said the act was a reaction to the assault on a teacher on Wednesday night. On that day, a male teacher was punched in the face after he confronted and filmed anti-government protesters at Kowloon Bay.

News footage of the clash showed the teacher was singing the Chinese anthem during the confrontation and was with young children.

After the assault, the teacher was seen bleeding from his face.

The organiser said no one should be assaulted for singing the national anthem.

“We support true freedom of speech, not what the rioters think of as freedom,” she said.

Police, however, said on Thursday the teacher was assaulted because of filming the protests.

The pro-China flash mob was immediately countered by a smaller group of supporters of the anti-extradition movement, who sang Glory to Hong Kong.

Many wore office clothes and did not hide their face, a contrast to the usual dress code of black T-shirts and face masks among the anti-government protesters.

Anti-government protesters gather in IFC to chant pro-democracy slogans and songs. Photo: May Tse

They also chanted: “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times”, the slogan that has become a rallying call of the movement.

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There was a brief shouting match between the two sides, which ended after most of the pro-China supporters left the mall at 1.30pm. Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, who was an information coordinator to former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was also seen quarrelling with the protesters.

The anti-government protesters remained to chant more of their slogans.

Wes Chan, a 24-year-old office worker at IFC, said he did not think the protests and counter-protests would lead to more violence.

“We shared our views freely and peacefully,” Chan said.

There was a brief shouting match between the two sides, which ended after most of the pro-China supporters left the mall. Photo: May Tse

Another worker from Central, who wished not to be named, said he did not mind the pro-China flash mob.

“We can sing and so can they,” he said.

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Supporters of the anti-extradition movement plan to stage more singing rallies across the city on Thursday night, including again at IFC Mall at 7pm.

He Wen, a Hong Kong affairs expert at the Shanghai Institute for East Asia Studies, said it was not a good time to stage pro-Beijing counterprotests.