The rally in support of Uighurs is likely to anger Beijing. China has faced international condemnation for rounding up an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in internment camps in the restive north-western region of Xinjiang.
The emergence of a huge surveillance and prison system that now blankets much of Xinjiang has been watched closely in Hong Kong, which has been convulsed by six months of huge and sometimes violent protests against Beijing’s rule.
Pro-Uighur chants and flags have become commonplace in Hong Kong’s marches, but yesterday’s rally was the first to be specifically dedicated to Uighurs.
Looking from afar, tying the plight of the Uighurs with Hong Kong’s appears to be a very risky, but intelligent move. On the one hand, it is likely that this will rouse China’s anger to greater heights. On the other hand, it identifies the Hong Kong protests with a broader issue of … — and this is where the existing vocabulary might break down — democracy? liberty? human rights? freedom? Probably something in the constellation of these concepts, but I’m finding it hard to articulate what principles tie these all together.
Regardless, this strategic move shows, in practice, how these interests might align against the Chinese government.
“We shall not forget those who share a common goal with us, our struggle for freedom and democracy, and the rage against the Chinese Communist Party,” one speaker shouted through a loudspeaker to cheers from the crowd.