Hundreds of pro-China demonstrators marched through Sydney Saturday in response to a growing number of rallies in support of the Hong Kong democracy protests as tensions between the two groups increasingly flare in Australia.
They marched through the city chanting “One China”, waving the Chinese flag and holding placards saying “Stop riots end violence in Hong Kong”.
“There has been a lot of violence and violent protests in Hong Kong,” Sydney-based lawyer and rally organiser who asked only to be called Zhao told AFP. “And Hong Kong people have suffered from that and we want to voice our call for peace and order in Hong Kong.”
Police had to escort a lone pro-democracy supporter from the Sydney event after he was set upon by a mob of angry demonstrators.
With the Asian financial hub plunged into crisis by months of pro-democracy protests, several small public rallies of support by Hong Kong students have been held at Australian universities.
These have angered some mainland Chinese students and have led to several heated confrontations and scuffles on campus.
Whoa this. “If HKers don’t love HK, gtfo! If you don’t love China, you’re our enemy! Isolate them! Get the fuck out!” And crowd cheers and someone goes “HK separatists are cunts!” pic.twitter.com/8r29Ez7Oh1
— Vicky Xiuzhong Xu (@xu_xiuzhong) August 17, 2019
China’s Brisbane consulate praised the “spontaneous patriotism” of pro-Beijing students after a clash at one university.
It immediately drew a sharp rebuke from Canberra, which warned diplomats against undermining fundamental rights or “encouraging disruptive or potentially violent behaviour”.
Up to 100 pro-China demonstrator been separated by Police away from the pro- #HongKong rally in Martin Place, #Sydney. The group of mostly Chinese international students have sung the Chinese national anthem and declared that Hong Kong is part of #China. pic.twitter.com/PwFfqCMjiL
— Roydon Ng (@RoydonNg) August 16, 2019
On Friday, the protests moved from the campus to the streets, drawing much larger numbers with hundreds rallying in support of the Hong Kong democracy movement in major cities across Australia.
Police had to break up heated confrontations in Melbourne and Sydney after pro-China activists arrived.
Counter-Hong Kong protestors shout “HONG KONG IS A PART OF CHINA” in response to solidarity demonstrations in Sydney’s CBD. #hongkong #hongkongprotests dm for use pic.twitter.com/S1gLQkCsCw
— Sebastian Reategui (@seb_rg) August 16, 2019
“We understand that there will be different ideas,” pro-Hong Kong democracy rally leader Dennis Chui told AFP, after a small number of Chinese nationalist activists confronted demonstrators Friday.
“(But) freedom and democracy are core values in Australia and we have to respect this,” he added.
Another pro-Hong Kong rally is planned for Sydney Sunday.