(TibetanReview.net, Jun24’22) – At least five protesters have disrupted Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian’s speech at a Sydney university on Jun 24 one after another, shouting slogans and questioning his government’s deplorable human rights record including in Xinjiang and Tibet, according to the Australian Associated Press and other reports Jun 24.
Mr Xiao Qian’s address at the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, calling for “concrete action” to “reset” the badly frayed China-Australia relationship was repeatedly disrupted by a series of coordinated protests.
One protester described Mr Xiao as a “representative of a dictatorship” and accused the Chinese government of committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. He was ushered out by security guards, reported the abc.net.au Jun 24.
One man was asked to leave the venue prior to the event because he was dressed in a Cultural Revolution-era military costume that security described as “confronting”.
Another protester – Anti-Chinese Communist Party activist Drew Pavlou – held a sign reading “Free Tibet, free East Turkestan, free Hong Kong!” reported dailytelegraph.com.au Jun 24.
Yet another woman shouted “It’s committing genocide in Tibet” as she was ushered out by a staff member who said “Madam, could you please leave the room now”, the report said.
Another person was reported to have stood up and declared he was an Uyghurs, not a terrorist, to be removed from the scene.
“You’re a disgrace,” a protester for Uyghur rights was reported to have shouted.
Yet another was escorted out after standing up and criticising China’s censorship, saying people in Hong Kong and Tibet were unable to express their views freely, said the Australian Associated Press report.
The university was reported to have cut the online feed of the address several times during the interruptions.
Mr Xiao was reported to have continued with his speech on Australia-China relations each time he was interrupted.
“I think it’s a good opportunity … we have different views, but they should be expressed in a way that is appropriate,” the dailytelegraph.com.au quoted him as saying at one point.
Mr Xiao was reported to have been asked questions that had already been vetted by his office.
The ambassador’s speech was widely seen as an attempt to thaw frosty relations between the two countries in the wake of trade sanctions and a recent “dangerous” encounter between a Chinese fighter jet and Australian maritime surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea.
Besides, there were months of mounting uneasiness in the Pacific over China’s expansion into the region, sparked by the signing of a controversial security pact with Solomon Islands.