Just how spontaneous was the spontaneous show of affection for Chinese President Xi Jinping during his UK visit? 

In a clip aired on BBC Newsnight, Mark Urban found that boxes of patriotic merchandise had been shipped in by the Chinese Embassy.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Channel 4 News aired footage of pro-China supporters obstructing human rights protesters:

Human rights protestors clash with pro-China supporters One dragon got too close to the pro-Tibet protestors and was moved on. Human rights protestors clashed with pro-China supporters on the Mall today during a procession welcoming the President Xi Jinping to the UK.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Some questioned the intentions of those attending rallies in support of Xi. London-based NGO Free Tibet filmed a cyclist confronting pro-China supporter, asking whether freedom of expression extends to those in Tibet.

Suspiciously coordinated pro-government rallies are not uncommon in Hong Kong. A new clip published this week by James Leong and Lynn Lee of lianainfilms.com documents a protest “with Chinese characteristics”. It was shot earlier in the year during Chinese official’s visit to the territory.

An iCable investigation last year famously uncovered evidence of pro-government protesters being paid to demonstrate.


Cable TV, TVBOriental Daily and the Economic Journal each discovered instances of demonstrators being paid up to HK$480 or offered freebies to attend a rally against the pro-democracy Occupy movement in August 2014.


Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.