Activists gathered in central Hong Kong Tuesday to protest the visit of US President Donald Trump’s former top strategist Steve Bannon, chanting “Nazis are not welcome here!” as they donned cartoon Trump masks.
The protesters stood outside the harbourfront Grand Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong where the 63-year-old was due to speak at a closed-door investors’ forum, holding a rooster-shaped cardboard cut-out capped with Trump’s hairstyle and labelled “toxic nationalist”.
Media were denied access to Bannon’s speech, hosted by CLSA, a Hong Kong-based brokerage firm owned by China’s CITIC Securities, China’s biggest investment bank.
Another banner bearing the faces of Bannon and China’s President Xi Jinping denounced racism and nationalism, with protesters accusing both of using divisive populist agendas to boost political support.
A pugnacious defender of populist and nationalist policies, Bannon was ousted from office last month as the White House was left reeling over the president’s response to a violent white supremacist rally.
He also championed trade protectionism and was seen as the driving force behind Trump’s isolationist and anti-immigrant agenda.
“Racism and bigotry have no borders. We are here in solidarity with global citizens as well as US citizens to condemn Donald Trump’s administration and Steve Bannon’s actions,” said activist Avery Ng of the Hong Kong pro-democracy party League of Social Democrats.
Sally Tang of political organisation Socialist Action questioned the sincerity of Bannon’s populist agenda.
“Bannon is inside with a lot of super-rich billionaires,” she said.
“Racism…is a very effective tool in dividing people amongst the 99%.”
— masks work (@wilfredchan) September 12, 2017
“The Chinese government and the US government are both using nationalism and (propaganda) to raise support inside their own countries,” Tang added.
Since being ousted from office Bannon has returned to the ultra-conservative news outlet Breitbart, which he headed before joining Trump’s team.
He has previously worked in Hong Kong and Shanghai.