Chinese Government says Kiwi Hong Kong protests shouldn't be accepted as 'freedom of speech'

The Chinese Foreign Ministry says demonstrations by supporters of the Hong Kong protests in New Zealand shouldn't be accepted "under the cloak of 'freedom of speech'".

Over the past week, tensions have flared at the University of Auckland between pro-Beijing individuals and those in support of the mass protests in Hong Kong over Beijing influence in the city.

Last week, a protest became physical after students clashed over the Hong Kong Bill and Beijing influence in the city. The Chinese Consulate in Auckland later released a statement praising the "spontaneous patriotism" of the students standing up for China.

Now Hua Chunying, the director of China's Foreign Ministry Information Department, has doubled down, saying "a very small people with ulterior motives peddled 'Hong Kong independence' and stirred troubles for anti-China purposes at Auckland University".

She says the consulate has called on Chinese students to "appropriately express their appeal following New Zealand's law and regulations of the university".

"It is just fulfilling its duty and this is beyond reproach."

Hua Chunying.
Hua Chunying. Photo credit: Getty.

In response to a question about reports the New Zealand Government had told Chinese officials freedom of speech on university campuses should be upheld, Hua said "certain people in New Zealand" should change their attitude.

"We advise certain people in New Zealand to take off their tinted glasses, discard double standards and stop condoning the anti-China separatist activities by 'Hong Kong independence' forces under the cloak of 'freedom of speech'."

In its statement last week, the consulate said media reports of the scuffle at the University of Auckland had been "biased".

"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 said.

Protests have ravaged Hong Kong since June after a Bill was proposed to allow individuals on trial to be extradited to mainland China - something those in opposition to the Bill said eroded Hong Kongers' freedoms under the 'one country, two systems' framework.

That Bill has since been suspended - although some are angry it hasn't been entirely withdrawn - but demonstrations continue in protest of what is seen as growing Beijing influence in the financial hub.

Chinese Government says Kiwi Hong Kong protests shouldn't be accepted as 'freedom of speech'
Photo credit: Getty / Newshub.

The University of Auckland says a formal investigation is underway into last week's demonstration and the students involved have been spoken to. A police spokesperson told Newshub that police have spoken with the complainant and will be investigating the incident in due course.

About 100 people turned out to a protest on Tuesday afternoon at the university campus. It was a mostly peaceful affair, but there was a confrontation when a pro-Beijing man appeared holding a sign saying "Hong Kong independence mob".

However, following that, a wall at the university where students could post thoughts and messages of support for those involved in the protests was vandalised.

On Thursday, Newshub reported that New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had upgrades its travel advisory for Kiwis living in or travelling to Hong Kong, asking them to "exercise increased caution".