Supporters of Hong Kong’s five-day-old civil disobedience movement held rallies on three continents Wednesday in a global display of solidarity with pro-democracy activists in the autonomous Chinese territory.
Hong Kong’s diplomatic compound in Washington is not usually a scene of protests, but about 200 people gathered outside the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office on Wednesday to call for genuine democratic elections in the territory.
Similar to the protests in Hong Kong, Washington's rally was and festive. It came together in just two days with the help of social media.
'Demonstrate our support'
Tin-ng Chin, 29, of Hong Kong, said, “I think we just want to do a little bit, being overseas, to at least demonstrate our support to the students in Hong Kong, (to show them) that they are not alone.”
Most of the protesters were from Hong Kong or have family ties to the city.
But the rally also drew some mainland Chinese activists, such as University of Georgia student Yi Gu, who saw the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement as an inspiration.
“I fully understand that the Hong Kong students’ attempts are part of the great movement to bring China a brighter future," Yi said.
The Americans in the crowd also identified with the Hong Kong democratic cause.
Ellis Klein of Washington said, “I’m here because, as an American, we have to support freedom whenever it’s threatened around the world.”
Economics of protest
Some critics of the Hong Kong protests asked whether a long civil disobedience campaign will hurt the territory’s economy and social stability.
Hong Kong activist Chin said he thinks those risks are worth taking.
“I think ultimately if we’re always so comfortable with our job and continuing to make money, nothing is going to change. I think there has to be some kind of sacrifice, and that’s just a choice that people have to make," Chin said.
Activists held protests in more than 60 cities in North America, Europe and Asia Wednesday.