Chinese Government-controlled media has publicly congratulated pro-Beijing protesters who gathered in Melbourne on Friday, while the nation’s ambassador to Australia has warned foreigners not to support pro-democracy activists.
An estimated 600 people from rival pro-Hong Kong democracy and pro-China groups took part in demonstrations outside the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.
Several scuffles broke out, forcing police to separate the groups.
Footage of Friday night’s protests quickly spread on Chinese state media, where reports were favourable of the pro-China protesters who they said surrounded the pro-democracy demonstrators.
“Melbourne’s Chinese students and Chinese immigrants spontaneously came and hung the national flag, supported the motherland and surrounded the pro HK independence people,” one report said.
“In order to prevent the national flag from getting wet, the patriots held umbrellas for the national flag in the rain. There are Chinese flag guards everywhere. Good job!”
At the time of publication, the post had been “liked” more than 1.1 million times and shared almost 100,000 times.
Ambassador warns foreigners not to interfere
China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, issued a statement on Saturday morning, as further rallies were taking place in Sydney and Melbourne.
He denounced the Hong Kong protesters’ actions as “radical, violent and illegal” and said they were determined to undermine its “one country, two systems” arrangement.
“Their behaviours have grossly trampled on the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong, seriously threatened the local residents’ life and safety, severely jeopardised Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” he said.
“No responsible government would sit idly by.”
He added that the unfolding situation was “solely the internal affairs of China” and warned foreign governments, including Australia’s, to not support Hong Kong’s protesters or interfere.
“We sincerely hope that people from all walks of life in Australia will see the real picture of situation in Hong Kong, act in the interests of Hong Kong’s prosperity, stability and rule of law,” he said.
“Any attempt to mess up Hong Kong is doomed to fail.”
Demonstrations continue in Sydney and Melbourne
The rallies continued on Saturday, with more than 1000 pro-Beijing activists peacefully marching through Sydney’s CBD to rally against the Hong Kong protests.
The pro-mainland supporters gathered about 12pm at Belmore Park near Central Station.
One pro-Hong Kong demonstrator who turned up was escorted away by police.
Demonstrators with flags and banners in English and Mandarin were chanting “one China, no separation” and “one country, two systems”.
Police escorted the demonstrators up George Street and onto Town Hall where speeches and singing continued.
In Melbourne, pro-democracy demonstrators were joined by more than 100 members of Melbourne’s Uighur, Tibetan and Vietnamese communities, among others, who came to show their concern about the situation in Hong Kong.
Organiser Phong Nguyen said he hoped Melburnians would be “appalled” by the behaviour of pro-China protesters who clashed with the pro-Hong Kong democracy activists on Friday night.
“We [are] very concerned about what China’s threatening lately, about the crackdown,” he said.
“We [have] still got a very vivid memory of the Tiananmen Square. We don’t want another Tiananmen Square.”
Vietnamese community leader Bon Nguyen said many of the people joining the protest were “victims of the communist regime”.
“We come together strongly to show our support, to protect our Australian democratic values. It is our responsibility to do that,” he said.
“The moment we keep silent, we are actually concurring to the actions of the aggressive regime.”