China supporters and extradition protesters clash at an Australian university

CANBERRA (BLOOMBERG) – Tensions over Hong Kong’s future have emerged at an Australian university, with footage on Wednesday (July 24) showing a fraught confrontation between supporters of China’s government and protesters opposed to the Asian financial hub’s proposed extradition Bill.

The rival groups faced off at a University of Queensland campus in Brisbane, with one side singing pro-China songs and the other chanting “free Hong Kong”.

Footage posted on Twitter showed protesters hurling verbal abuse as police tried to calm the situation, while punches were thrown between two people.

As of December, more than 200,000 Chinese students were in Australia, making up about 30 per cent of the total international student intake.

Australia last year passed anti-foreign interference laws that the government said were needed to curtail Beijing’s meddling in its government, media and universities.

Queensland Police provided support to the university at the scene, a spokesman said at about 4.15pm Brisbane time. No arrests had been made.

The university said in a statement that it had requested police support due to “safety concerns resulting from a student-initiated protest on campus”.

“One of the roles of universities is to enable open, respectful and lawful free speech, including debate about ideas we may not all support or agree with,” it said.

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