Sun, Aug 11, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Australian schools become battleground over protests

AFP, SYDNEY

The Chinese government does not appear to have tried to quiet the tensions, with consulates in Auckland and Brisbane praising the “spontaneous patriotism” of pro-Beijing students.

The statement by the Brisbane consulate drew a sharp rebuke from Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, who warned diplomats against undermining fundamental rights or “encouraging disruptive or potentially violent behavior.”

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that while China is an important trading partner, foreign interference in Australia is at “an all-time high.”

“We are worried about influence on university campuses,” he said.

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association — a government-backed body — has led complaints about the pro-Hong Kong protests.

A local chapter earlier this week complained to the University of Tasmania about “discriminatory, insulting comments” posted around campus regarding Hong Kong.

“The content was malicious and defamatory, and the behaviors were extremely bad,” it said, calling on the university to “establish a clean and pure study environment for students.”

Chapters of the association have been accused by US Vice President Mike Pence of policing Chinese students as much as representing them overseas.

The organization told reporters that it respected local law and freedom of speech, but urged the university to “pay attention to this issue before it escalates.”

“We are all students, we should focus on our study,” it said.

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