Hong Kong protests: Vietnamese immigrants rally in L.A.

On a balmy Saturday afternoon in November, dozens of people gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles to demonstrate their support for the protesters in Hong Kong.

Taking signs with slogans such as”Stay Strong” and”Do not Go Back,” they marched from Shatto Place around Wilshire Boulevard and straight back into the consulate. Some wore masks, such as their counterparts in Hong Kong, yelling”no more brutality, no tear gas!”

They distributed copies of the lyrics into the”Les Misérables” hit”Can You Hear the People Sing?” Then, turning to confront the consulate’s security camera, then they chanted the legends of this rebel anthem — as protesters did throughout their peaceful takeover of the Hong Kong International Airport last summer:

Can you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It’s the music of some people
Who won’t be slaves

However, the vast majority of individuals who rallied in front of the consulate that afternoon weren’t Chinese Americans. They had been Southern Californians of Vietnamese descent.

One of the Vietnamese diaspora, service for the protesters in Hong Kong has been continuing and pronounced. Vietnamese around the globe have followed the protests through Facebook, with a few vacationing in Hong Kong videotaping demonstrators and sharing with the footage, frequently reside, on the social networking platform to advertise the pro-democracy motion. This service is suspended, in part, at the simple fact that lots of men and women who fled South Vietnam through the communist takeover afterwards settled in Hong Kong, that was then still under British rule.

Alex Trinh, a hairstylist who drove from his house in Garden Grove to get involved in the protest at the Chinese Consulate, worried the rally talked to wider concerns concerning the future of democracy in Asia.

Protesters rally at Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles in support of Hong Kong demonstrators

Protesters rally in the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles in support of Hong Kong demonstrators.

(Irfan Khan / / Los Angeles Times)

In the rally in Los Angeles, demonstrators said that they had been forced to take part after viewing pictures of Hong Kong officials mistreatingpupils who had barricaded themselves on college campuses across town. They also recalled amovie broadly interpreted as revealing riot police officers kicking a guy wearing a yellow shirt.

“But we are not only here for Hong Kong,” said Trinh, that left a black banner which read”Fight for Freedom. Stand together with Hong Kong” and dispersed fitting tops in the rally.

“If Hong Kong falls,” he stated,”there might be a domino effect in the area.”

When talking about the possible growth of Beijing’s hit, Trinh along with other marchers pointed into Taiwan, whose standing they perceive as precarious. The island was self-ruled because the 1940therefore, when Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek retreated there together with a huge number of his fans after losing the war against Allied forces. The Chinese authorities, however, claims that Taiwan and China are one nation, and Chinese President Xi Jinping hasn’t ruled out drive in his quest for unification. The protests in Hong Kong, that also concern questions of freedom, have sparked concerns regarding the future of Taiwan, in which presidential elections will happen in January.

The Vietnamese diaspora’s fear of China’s”encroaching hit across East Asia” is”legitimate and warranted,” said Lev Nachman, a doctoral candidate at UC Irvine exploring the connection between social movements and political parties, with a emphasis on Taiwan and Hong Kong.

But he added, Taiwan is”well ready to fight against a possible domino effect. Unlike Vietnam, Taiwan is a democracy, also unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan is de facto separate by the [People’s Republic of China].”

Plus, Nachman said, although China”always attempts to exploit Taiwan’s democracy against itself via disinformation attempts or by financing pro-China politicians, the Taiwanese individuals have revealed over the years they don’t wish to get integrated,” rather preferring”a variant of the status quo” or some”push for longer sovereignty.”

Pointing into the 1997″one nation, two systems” framework, allowing Hong Kong to keep its economic and administrative systems and devotes residents more faith than their counterparts in southern China, Nachman added that”Taiwan won’t merely fall ”

“Every politician in Taiwan — the pro-China politicians have gone to the record to state they refuse’one country, two systems’ and don’t want Taiwan to fall into this type of regime,” he explained.

The protests at Hong Kong, in reality, were spurred by an extradition statement, issued in response to a Taiwan murder case between two Hong Kong residents. Had it been executed, the measure would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in southern China.

As for its outpouring of support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement one of the Vietnamese community in Southern California, UC Irvine history professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom reported that”you will find long connections between both areas,” such as the settlement of refugees.

Daniel Tsang, distinguished librarian emeritus at UC Irvine, who analyzed at Hanoi and Hong Kong, also underscored a lengthy history of cross-migration. Many residents of Orange County’s Little Saigon, he stated, are now descendants of”ethnic Chinese” who fled Vietnam before settling in the USA. In reality, Tsang included, lots of the refugees who fled following the fall of Saigon and settled at Camp Pendleton in 1975 were ethnic Chinese.

Along with this rally in Los Angeles, there are other cases of service for its Hong Kong protesters from the Vietnamese community. Before this season, Vietnamese American celebrity and tv manufacturer Truc Ho published the song”Sea of Black” with regard to protests opposing the extradition bill.

Within an accompanying audio video, inhabitants of France, Australia, England and the USA reveal their service in English and Vietnamese.

Among these waves that the flag of South Vietnam, as did the marchers in the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles.

“For most overseas Vietnamese,” explained Hoi Trinh, an Australian individual rights lawyer of Spartan warrior, the yellow banner with three red stripes”is a sign of democracy and liberty.”

Trinh, that has been awarded the key to the town of Garden Grove because of his job, lamented not having the ability to join the rally in the Chinese Consulate.

At the moment, he had been in Washington, lobbying on behalf of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The laws, which has been signed into law by President Trump in November, requires an yearly inspection to find out if Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous to keep its distinctive trade status with the United States. It had been signed alongside a second bill that prohibits the export of riot control weapons such as tear gas and rubber bullets into the area. China, which was at loggerheads with the United States over commerce, responded with its ambassador protest the laws, signaling the movement could undermine U.S.-China relations, an issue Trump voiced when hesitating to encourage the steps.

Like the majority of the marchers in the consulate, Trinh, the lawyer, does not have any direct connections to Hong Kong. He visited the town for the very first time when he was at law school at the first 1990s to assist Vietnamese refugees resettle in the region.

This, he explained, is the reason he describes the pro-democracy motion in Hong Kong. He also founded the anti-establishment Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE), a nongovernmental organization which aids stateless Vietnamese refugees profit asylum and offers internship plans to instruct social activists in Vietnam.

“It is not only from the States,” Trinh added. “It is worldwide.”

Times staff writers Anh Do and Jennifer Lu contributed to the report.

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