British Columbia

Why this Burnaby man is supporting China's side in the Hong Kong protests

Burnaby's Victor Feng says Chinese supporters are not against Hong Kong or democracy. He claims many people have misunderstood the controversial extradition bill.

'We're not against Hong Kong, we're not against democracy,' says Burnaby's Victor Feng

Burnaby's Victor Feng, who grew up in China, has lived in Canada for the last 15 years. He still has lots of national pride for China. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A Burnaby man who voiced his support for China in opposition to a series of pro-Hong Kong protests in Vancouver says he thinks some people may have misunderstood the cause of pro-China demonstrators.

Victor Feng, 34, says the group is not against the Hong Kong territory or democracy, and says the pro-China labels versus pro-Hong Kong labels create more confusion.

"One of our slogans is we love China, we love Hong Kong," says Feng.

Since June, a number of rallies in solidarity with protestors in Hong Kong have taken place in Vancouver.

This past weekend, efforts ramped up with four events, and for the first time, pro-China protestors mobilized as well.

Feng says while many people have spoken out from the pro-Hong Kong side, views from his camp have received less attention

Vancouver Police brought in additional officers to the Aug. 17 protest, where tempers flared, but there were no major incidents. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Proud of his heritage

Feng was born and raised in China but has lived in Canada for the last 15 years.

He's a permanent resident in Canada, though he adds that he still has lots of love for his home country.

"Anyone who is Chinese should be proud of their heritage," he said. "Certainly I am one of those."

Feng says he's been following the protests closely and wants to see a peaceful end to the chaotic demonstrations.

"Just seeing that happening is very, very, very heartbreaking."

The extradition bill

Feng says many people do not have a full understanding of the controversial extradition bill that triggered the protests.

The proposed bill would have allowed Hong Kong to send its residents to mainland China to face criminal charges. Critics say defendants extradited to the mainland might not have access to a fair trial in China, and fear Beijing could also use the law to crack down on dissidents.

But Feng claims the bill would have only affected a small number of people. And now that it's been suspended, he wants protestors in Hong Kong to stop their demonstrations because he doesn't think the bill will be reintroduced.

However, protestors have called for a full withdrawal of the bill. They've also added to their demands, calling for an amnesty for demonstrators who have been arrested and demanding wider democratic reforms.

People run away from tear gas fired by police to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters demonstration at Sham Shui Po, in Hong Kong, China Aug.14, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Many Hong Kong residents have accused Beijing of encroaching its autonomy since the city was handed back to China after 156 years of British rule.

Under the "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong is considered a Special Administrative Region of China and maintains an independent legislative system and a legal system based on British common law that should guarantee property rights and a fair trial in criminal cases.

Skewed view

Feng believes Hong Kong is a rightful part of China and many people have a skewed view of the country he grew up in. 

"I think there is democracy and freedom and China, but sometimes we have different views when it comes to western democracy and western freedom of speech," he says.

He believes that as a sovereign country, China has the right to a design its own legal system.

It's also not fair to say the country doesn't follow the rule of law just because it has a different set of rules "we might deem unreasonable," he says.

But despite Feng's defence of where he grew up, he admits, it is not without flaws.

"Instead of just criticizing our home country, I think I'll do whatever I can to try to provide my own contributions to change what's going on there."

Among them, is stepping up to demonstrate even when he's a world away in hopes of making his views heard.

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