Wild scenes erupted at the University of Queensland on Wednesday the 24th July. A peaceful pro-democracy protest against the Hong Kong Extradition Bill was turned into a melee, when hundreds of Pro-CCP Chinese students arrived to display what the Consulate-General of the PRC in Brisbane described as ‘spontaneous patriotic behaviour’.
The great court on the St. Lucia campus of the University of Queensland in Brisbane was packed with passionate protesters in unprecedented nationalistic scenes which saw Hong Kong independence activists outnumbered by Pro-Beijing CCP (Chinese Communist Party) supporters who yelled slogans, waved signs and blasted the Chinese national anthem through loudspeakers.
In footage obtained by TU, you can clearly see the moment when a student who appears to be of Chinese extraction attacks a protester who is seated with a megaphone and a sign. The seated protesters are chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Xi Xingping has got to go”. The attacker lingers for some time building up courage. When the seated protesters are discussing what their next chant will be, he proceeds to attempt to rip the sign and throw away the megaphone before retreating behind one of his comrades. In the ensuing fracas a punch is thrown at the pro-independence protester as the Chinese national anthem blares in the background.
The population of Chinese students at UQ is significant, 33% of its student enrollment comes from foreign students which may help explain why the university has been slow to act on the ongoing tensions. Recently the university was caught out when it was discovered that they had come to an agreement to promote pro-Beijing Confucius Institutes in Australia and failed to disclose the information to Australia’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme register. Confucius Institutes – a product of Beijing’s Hanban – have been linked to the insidious spread of Chinese soft power globally and have been labelled as pro-Beijing propaganda outlets with links to espionage.
In response to the ongoing fallout the General Consulate of the PRC in Brisbane released a statement which has been translated as follows.
“It was learned that a small group of people with ulterior motives, has organized an Anti-Chinese separatist campaign at the University of Queensland on the afternoon of July 24. This activity has caused strong displeasure and resentment among Chinese students overseas, including some Hong Kong citizens.
The Consulate-General highly value the safety of Chinese students overseas and approve their spontaneous patriotic behaviour. We resolutely oppose any form of secession from China; and oppose the people that created the antagonism between students from Mainland China and Hong Kong and took advantage from the incident mentioned above to incite Sinophobia sentiment.
The Consulate-General resolutely defend the legal rights of Chinese overseas students and will continue to pay close attention on this matter. We hope all Chinese students overseas to watch out for their personal safety while expressing their demands in accordance to local laws.” – Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Brisbane (emphasis added)
One could be forgiven for thinking that that last paragraph could constitute a veiled threat against Hong Kong independence protesters.
The protests are related to an extradition bill which will allow the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to extradite dissidents from Hong Kong. The bill is seen as a threat to the concept of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ proposed by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980’s to reunify Macao and Hong Kong with mainland China while allowing them a semblance of legal independence as separate economic zones.
In 1842 Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War, a humiliation which still lingers in the collective conscience of the Chinese people. In 1997 sovereignty was transferred to the PRC and has enjoyed its status as a separate administrative region with high economic prosperity due to its ability to attract corporate business with its low corporate tax rates.
The growth Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia has been of great concern to Nationalists for many years, with the purchase of significant tracts of agricultural land, water rights, infrastructure and residential real estate. The courting of government officials by CCP linked business-people was also made apparent by the Sam Dastyari saga.
This incident should be a wake-up call to not just students of UQ but Australians in general that Australia is not insulated against the increasing belligerence of the Chinese Dragon in the Pacific. Insistence by the State Council Information Office of the PRC in its latest defense white paper that they seek to “Resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests” while “Never seeking hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence” are laughable to anyone not on the payroll of the CCP.
As of publication no arrests have been made.