A pro-Hong Kong rally was planned in Melbourne on Friday but things didn't seem to go as planned. Dozens of pro-China protesters also swarmed the event and both the groups were shouting at each other while few reports of violence have also come to light.
The rally began at 7 pm local time outside the State Library on Swanston Street in Melbourne and number of protesters crossed over 1000 quickly but many among them were pro-China protesters and the situation turned so bad that Australian police had to intervene to separate protesters that were fighting.
Videos from the incident have gone viral on social media and have sparked intense debate between pro-China protesters and pro-Hong Kong protesters.
Outside State Library of Melbourne, protestors in support of Hong Kong appear heavily outnumbered by loud pro-China counter-protestors, mostly young. Some I ask have come after seeing footage on WeChat. Now seperated by police, shouting slurs and singing patriotic songs. pic.twitter.com/jjKoK1VGhb— Ross Richardson (@ooobo) August 16, 2019
While China supporters are arguing that they have freedom to express what they support.
Hong Kongers, on the other hand, are mocking them of claiming "freedoms that don't exist back home in China."
Chinese students in Melbourne, enjoying Australia's freedom of assembly & freedom of expression, something that doesn't exist back home, showing their supports for China eroding Hong Kong's autonomy. These students are in the West, but their minds have never left China. #antiELAB https://t.co/9wtbp6WFmT— Enoch Lieu (@enochcafe) August 16, 2019
Hong Kong has been hit by several weeks of mass protest rallies, some of which have ended in violence, triggered by a controversial bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. They have evolved into calls for wider democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the most significant challenge to Beijing's rule since the city's 1997 handover.
Recent weeks have seen a dramatic surge in the level of violence used by both protesters and police who have repeatedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse projectile-throwing crowds. Operations at the Hong Kong airport were also paralyzed for 2 days earlier this week after hundreds of protesters swarmed into the building.