hong kong protest toronto

Chinese nationalists crash Hong Kong rally in Toronto with luxury cars

Rising political tensions between China and the special administrative region of Hong Kong have been spurring enormous protests around the world in recent months, many of them escalating to the point of violence.

A large-scale demonstration in Toronto this weekend was no exception as duelling protest groups screamed, smacked each other and, in the case of Chinese government supporters, blocked off traffic with their luxury supercars.

Thousands of people gathered outside Toronto's Old City Hall on Saturday afternoon for a planned protest in support of Hong Kong, where China's government is said to be cracking down on democratic rights and freedoms.

What started earlier this summer as a series of demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill has turned into what Vox describes as "a broader fight to protect Hong Kong's freedoms and civil liberties against encroachment from the Chinese government."

"Over the past few months, the demonstrations have evolved from millions marching through the streets, to groups of protesters in hard hats storming government headquarters and shutting down the city's international airport for two days," explains CNN.

"Protesters are now demanding greater democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality during past demonstrations. Hong Kong's billionaires are calling for order. And as unrest intensifies, Beijing's tone is becoming increasingly heated."

Things were certainly heated at the pro-Hong Kong rally in Toronto on Saturday, especially after counter-protesters arrived to the scene in droves.

Upon arriving to the scene, Chinese nationalists reportedly blocked the supporters of Hong Kong from participating in a planned march around the Eaton Centre.

The pro-democracy group decided to stay put in peaceful protest, according to CTV, as counter-protesters chanted "One China!" and "Loser! Loser!"

Many on Twitter are criticizing the pro-China group in light of footage that shows young people arriving to the protest in very expensive cars.

The cars, all of them waving Mainland China flags, stopped to rev their engines as protesters assembled in support of Hong Kong.

Similar behaviour was observed in Vancouver during one of many pro-democracy rallies on Saturday.

"Today in Toronto, the pro-China groups are attacking the peaceful Hong Kong protests," tweeted one observer. "The Chinese nationalist shown up in fancy cars and call HKers 'poor garbage' also threatens to kill all HKers."

"Pro China counter protest with a flagrant display of wealth?" wrote another. "They clearly are oblivious to how ridiculous they look."

"Mainland Chinese stage counter-protest in Toronto against Hong Kong demonstrators — who are protesting for democracy & rule of law — by driving their 'patriotic ferraris.'" wrote NPR journalist Frank Langfitt in response to the move.

"Were I writing a satirical novel, I would never have had the imagination to invent this scene."

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland issued a statement with her EU counterpart on Saturday addressing tensions between China and Hong Kong.

"For the last two months, large numbers of citizens have been exercising their fundamental right of assembly," it reads. "However, there has recently been a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents, with risks of further violence and instability."

"It is crucial that restraint be exercised, violence rejected and urgent steps taken to de-escalate the situation."

China's government, in turn, has told Freeland to "immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs."

Said a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in a statement on Sunday: "The Canadian side should be cautious on its words and deeds when it comes to Hong Kong."

Lead photo by

Fang Shimin

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