China Consulate praises 'patriotism' of students in Auckland University scuffle

The China Consulate in Auckland has praised the "spontaneous patriotism" of Auckland University students opposed to Hong Kong secessionism involved in a scuffle on Monday.

On Monday, at the University of Auckland campus, students supportive of Hong Kong as part of China clashed with students demonstrating against an extradition Bill in Hong Kong and Beijing's influence in the city.

The extradition Bill has been extremely controversial in the "one country, two systems" nation as it would allow those in the city to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Massive protests in Hong Kong saw the Bill suspended in July, but some continue to protest that it should be withdrawn.

A verbal dispute began on Monday, which turned physical after a protesting woman was pushed to the ground. Video footage of the incident emerged on the "New Zealander Hong Konger" Facebook page.

The China Consulate in Auckland has since released two statements - one in English and one in Chinese - praising the "spontaneous patriotism" of some of the students for standing up for China and opposing splitting the country.

"The Consulate General strongly condemns the use of the recent situation in Hong Kong, under the pretext of so-called academic freedom and freedom of expression, on the university campus to engage in smearing attacks on the Chinese government and the Hong Kong SAR government, inciting anti-China sentiment, and creating opposition between Chinese and Hong Kong students," a translated version of the Chinese text also says.

Expert on China, Anne-Marie Brady, reacted to the statement on Twitter by saying it was "pretty huge". 

"It is part of a global trend in [Communist Party of China] foreign policy under Xi of undiplomatic behaviour by Chinese diplomats."

Consulate calls media reports 'biased'

The Consulate also slammed New Zealand media reports of the incident and the events in Hong Kong as "biased". 

"Some New Zealand media reported on this, but the content of the report was biased, especially the description of the recent situation in Hong Kong was seriously untrue.

"In Hong Kong, some people with ulterior motives and media took the opportunity to spread alarmist speeches, create social panic, and obstruct the bill from being passed in the Legislative Council."

It said while the local police had approved peaceful protest, "some militants deliberately created violent assaults and smuggling of government agencies."

The Consulate then goes on to criticise "anti-Chinese politicians in the West [which] have issued irresponsible remarks and played a less glamorous role".

"To put it bluntly, they are nothing more than trying to mess up Hong Kong and turn Hong Kong into a trouble for China.

"The Consulate General wishes to reiterate here that Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong and that Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs, and no external forces can interfere."

The statement ended by asking students to abide by New Zealand laws and university regulations and hoped "the New Zealand community will continue to create a good environment for Chinese students".

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters told Stuff: "New Zealand values the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, and we fully support the exercise of those freedoms."

The university has responded to the dispute by beginning an investigation and saying it had been advised of a number of student disputes over differing viewpoints on the events in Hong Kong. Police have also confirmed to Newshub a complainant had been spoken to and it would investigate the incident.

Hong Kong was returned to China from Britain in 1997, with a "one country, two systems" form of governance that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including freedom to protest and an independent judiciary.

Opponents to the Bill say it is a threat to Hong Kong's rule of law.