Hong Kong protests spill over to Australia, clashes between pro- Hong Kong and pro-Chinese protesters turns violent

  • August 18, 2019

Friday evening protests in Melbourne. Image: WeChat (Sssunny_MM)

A pro-Hong Kong rally held in Melbourne on Friday turned violent after pro-China protesters gathered in Melbourne’s CBD to counter the pro-Hong Kong protests. The spill-over has caused multiple parties to raise concerns:

  • Victoria Police have said they will not tolerate ‘those who break the law or engage in antisocial or violent behaviour’.
  • Australian MPs have raised concern about ‘Chinese government influence’ in Australian Universities.
  • China has sent a stern warning to protesters who marched in support of those protesting in Hong Kong.


Several pro-Hong Kong protesters gathered outside the State Library on Swanston Street around 7 p.m. A group of pro-China supporters arrived at the scene, after which clashes broke out. Police were called to break the large number of protesters.

Similarly, on Saturday more than a hundred people re-gathered at the same spot for a peaceful rally in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. Among them were members of Melbourne’s Uyghur community, Tibetan and Vietnamese groups, with cards reading “We love Hong Kong! We love Australia” and “Step Down Carrie Lam Puppet. Let the HK people vote.” Police were monitoring the rally closely, and had to deter several pro-China commentators from intervening.

Similar protests and counter-protests were organised in Australia’s Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide as well.  A pro-China march in Sydney included at least 200 protesters descending on the city’s Town Hall chanting “Long Live China” and singing the Chinese national anthem. Pro-Hong Kong rallies were held in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.

MP’s for Free Speech:  

In the wake of the clashes Liberal backbenchers Amanda Stoker, Tim Wilson, Dave Sharma and James Paterson warned of increasing Chinese influence in Australian Universities – they said the universities must protect free speech of the students. Senator Stoker said the free speech of students to have views that don’t align with the Chinese Communist Party must be looked after.

China warns protesters:

Amidst intensifying protests, China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, issued a statement warning foreign governments not to 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,” Mr Jingye said.