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Don't sell tear gas to Hong Kong, says CAAT – but Hong Kong trade unionist warns against endorsing anti-China violence

CAMPAIGN Against Arms Trade (Caat) has called on British authorities to end sales of tear gas, pepper spray and other crowd-control ammunition to Hong Kong.

The campaign said that Hong Kong security forces had used tear gas and pepper spray against protesters and noted that in 2014, Hong Kong police had used tear gas made in Britain.

But a leading Hong Kong trade unionist warned that Western observers should not “conflate” largely peaceful protests with the “rioting, vandalism and arson” deployed by violent anti-China extremists.

Trade-union offices, like many shops, restaurants and train stations, have been repeatedly attacked and torched by rioters, who have also been engaged in assaults on counter-protesters, including by setting an unarmed construction worker on fire.

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions leader Alice Mak said the US and Britain had condoned the “widespread use of violence” by parts of the protest movement.

The federation is Hong Kong’s largest trade-union grouping, with around 200 affiliated unions and over 400,000 members.

Ms Mak, also an elected member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, said her own district office had been destroyed by rioters three times and that around 30 of the federation’s offices had been targeted by anti-communist groups.

She accused Western media of “deliberately downplaying” the level of violence by anti-China protesters.

Though the introduction of national security legislation could help stabilise Hong Kong and discourage acts of violence, Ms Mak said that underlying social and political issues also needed to be resolved.

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