Overseas clashes erupt between pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing Chinese expats
While I have not seen any news of such conflicts in the United States, Australian sources have reported that the Hong Kong democracy protests have spilled over to their shores. Anne Kruger writes in First Draft News:
The loudest reverberations outside Hong Kong were heard during rallies in late July at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, where pro-democracy protests added to existing tensions around Beijing's spending and influence on campus.
The protests began in support of Hong Kong students fighting a now suspended extradition bill with China, but later brought in a range of grievances against the Chinese government, including the persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, human rights in Tibet, and camps in the western Xinjiang region where Uighur Muslims are sent for 're-education'.
Events in Brisbane became heated after pro-China students arrived in opposition to the initial rallies, voicing their opinions, playing the Chinese national anthem and, in some cases, pulling down signs.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation added:
The difference of opinions have sparked disputes at half a dozen campuses including the University of New South Wales, Australian National University, University of Tasmania and Monash University with more demonstrations planned in Sydney and Melbourne next week.
Pro-Beijing residents in Sydney and Melbourne also announced their plans yesterday to protest against the "riots" in Hong Kong in their respective CBDs on Saturday, August 17.
It is already evening of the 17th down under, and we have this paywalled report from the Herald Sun of Melbourne:
Rival protesters clashed in Melbourne's CBD last night as hundreds gathered in support of action in Hong Kong.
Police were forced to form a wall between pro-Hong Kong and pro-Chinese activists after up to 1000 people gathered outside the State Library on Swanston St.
Protesters could be seen pushing and shoving each other before officers intervened to separate the groups.
Pro-democracy advocates chanted "Free Hong Kong" as they gathered on the steps of the library, carrying signs pledging "solidarity with Hong Kong".
They also held yellow umbrellas, a symbol of resistance that echoes back to the 2014 Hong Kong protests, and the words "Free Hong Kong" were projected on to the walls of the library.
Pro-Chinese protesters waved Chinese flags and chanted.
Are the mainland-controlled Confucius Institutes on American campuses urging pro-Beijing students to stay quiet in order to quell further criticism? I am puzzled as to why Australia has had multiple incidents while I have seen no news of the same phenomenon here.
China is very sensitive to overseas reactions to its moves and to the opinions of overseas Chinese. The original Chinese Revolution of Sun Yat-sen was nurtured among overseas Chinese residents.
Photo credit: Twitter video screen grab.
Hat tip: John McMahon.
Update from Monica Showalter: They seem to be rallying some of them, and from what may well be China's strongest redoubt in the states: Hollywood. Chinese-American Actress Crystal Liu Yifeng, the star of Disney's Mulan movie, has come out in support of the Hong Kong police, a very strange stance for anyone to take. She even sounded as though she was being puppeted to do this. According to the Hollywood Reporter:
Posting to her 65 million followers on Chinese social media platform Weibo, Liu shared an image originally released by the state-backed People's Daily, reading: "I support Hong Kong's police, you can beat me up now," followed by, "What a shame for Hong Kong." Liu added the hashtag "IAlsoSupportTheHongKongPolice" and a heart emoji. The post received over 72,000 likes and over 65,000 shares in less than 24 hours.
Outside of China, however, the hashtag #BoycottMulan has begun to trend on Twitter and Instagram. One of the most viral tweets, with 3,500 retweets and almost 4,000 likes, came from Twitter user @sdnorton who wrote: "Disney’s Mulan actress, Liu Yifei, supports police brutality and oppression in Hong Kong. Liu is a naturalized American citizen. it must be nice. meanwhile she pisses on people fighting for democracy. retweet please. HK doesn’t get enough support. #BoycottMulan @Disney."
Based on the angry reaction, it's clear that the actress fears Beijing's wrath more than she fears a consumer boycott on her own employer, which could very well eat into her own paycheck. Seriously, she made statements that enraged potential ticket buyers of her big breakthrough role of playing the Chinese Disney princess, her big break in Hollywood.
Money is the only thing that talks in amoral Hollywood, and a statement like this draws attention to the fact that China has made tremendous investments in Hollywood's financially battered studios over the last decade or so. The aim, supposedly, was that Hollywood be able establish a foothold in China's movie-going market base, which is vast. But based on this weird stuff from this actress with at least some China ties (currently unknown), statements she certainly can't believe, it looks like maybe China's Hollywood investments are working the other way.