Patriotic Student Violence Is The Last Thing China Needs


THE VIOLENT REACTION by mainland Chinese university students to on-campus expressions of solidarity with Hong Kong’s democratic activists is perplexing. The general presumption is that, both here in New Zealand and across the Tasman, these violent pro-Beijing counter-demonstrators are backed by the Chinese authorities. If this is true, and the published correspondence between the Chinese Consul and the Vice-Chancellor of AUT over a proposed, but subsequently cancelled, Tiananmen Square exhibition only encourages people to believe that it is, then the Chinese Government is behaving very foolishly.

Nothing is more calculated to stir-up anti-Chinese feeling than images of young Chinese males, guests of the New Zealand state, thuggishly assaulting a young female citizen exercising her right to free speech on the Auckland campus. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and its front-organisation, the Asia Foundation, may be tireless pourers-of-oil over troubled diplomatic waters behind the scenes, but they cannot afford to be seen publicly down-playing such a blatant violation of New Zealand’s political norms.

The same applies to the Vice-Chancellors of New Zealand’s universities. No matter how furious the University authorities may be with the pro-Hong Kong activists (for endangering the tertiary education sector’s business model) the behaviour of their pro-Beijing antagonists has forced them to publicly reiterate the universities’ statutory obligation to act as the “conscience and critic” of New Zealand society. Any further outbursts from pro-Beijing Chinese students will only increase the pressure on the nation’s vice-chancellors. Calls are already being made for the expulsion of the individual/s responsible for the assault on the young Auckland student. These will become irresistible if such attacks are repeated.

It is this obvious diplomatic downside which argues against these pro-Beijing demonstrations being officially sanctioned. The Chinese Embassy and its Auckland Consulate prefer to exert pressure quietly, and well out of the public gaze. If a New Zealand politician speaks out openly against Chinese policy – in regard to the South China Sea, for example – then an official rebuke will be forthcoming. It is, however, most unusual for the Chinese to court public condemnation deliberately.

That is why it makes more sense to cast about for an alternative explanation.

The most obvious would have to be the exaggerated patriotic sensitivities of students from the Peoples Republic. The ability to study abroad, especially in English-speaking countries like Australia and New Zealand, is a privilege to which only the sons and daughters of the most influential mainland Chinese families can aspire. Conscious of their privilege: an uncomfortable awareness in a society still officially committed to socialist principles; these young men and women undoubtedly feel a heightened obligation to defend the honour and dignity of their homeland from all manner of insults and injuries.

Add to this awareness a lifetime’s worth of education about the imperialist perfidy of the Western Powers – Great Britain in particular – and the Hong Kong protests can only present themselves to the ultra-patriotic eyes young Chinese abroad as the work of treacherous reactionaries. The mainlanders are fearful that the ultimate goal of the protesters is to nullify the 1997 Handover Agreement, by which the United Kingdom accepted the inevitability of Hong Kong’s eventual reabsorption into the Chinese motherland. Like the Beijing Government, itself, Chinese students studying abroad are incensed by the idea that the Hong Kong protesters are intentionally raising the possibility of the Special Administrative Region breaking away to become another Taiwan.

The violent reaction of pro-Beijing Chinese students to the merest suggestion of an “independent” Hong Kong thus requires no official orchestration. The sons and daughters of high-ranking Communist Party officials know exactly what is required of them – as do their less exalted student compatriots. These latter are also acutely aware that as soon as they have completed their studies they must return to their homeland. Their prospects of a successful career will not be enhanced by secret reports detailing their sympathy for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Such is the overwhelming power of the Chinese state, past as well as present, that the chill of its shadow is almost always as persuasive as the weight of its fist.

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If anything, then, it will have become the urgent priority of the Auckland Consulate and the Wellington Embassy to restrain the enthusiasm of the Peoples Republic’s patriotic youth overseas. Beijing has enough on its plate at the moment: the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province; American accusations of 5G espionage; maintaining the momentum of One Belt, One Road; without the best and brightest of its defenders on Australian and New Zealand campuses behaving like triad thugs.


  1. Right-wing propertied-class Boomers like Trotter-sky will only acknowledge the truly avaricious, expansionist, Lebensraum-seeking, racist Nazis-on-steroids nature of the Middle Kingdom after it has invaded Poland… err… *cough* Taiwan 😉

    Bomber, I thought your blog was supposed to be Left-wing.. trying to go mainstream, eh?

  2. Well if they play up in my opinion is send them home. If they want to have their little squabbles they can do it on their own doorsteps not ours.

  3. If the cause is over exuberant patriotism it may pay the CCP to censure their acolytes ….but then one so steeped in their cause would have known how their masters felt .

    It was sanctioned.

  4. “THE VIOLENT REACTION by mainland Chinese university students to on-campus expressions of solidarity with Hong Kong’s democratic activists is perplexing. The general presumption is that, both here in New Zealand and across the Tasman, these violent pro-Beijing counter-demonstrators are backed by the Chinese authorities.”

    What? Have you seen the video footage of the incident in question? Not much in the way of violence, I’d have said. Sure, the young woman fell over, but it looked as if she slipped and overbalanced. But she worked it for all it was worth, yelling for security. Right drama queen stuff. The other students then dispersed. One student was obviously restraining another student, who was becoming passionate and waving his arms about. I didn’t see any violence; it looked like a passionate political disagreement, and that’s all. I’ve seen much worse on campus elsewhere. As I’m sure you also have.

    Do you have any idea of what’s going on in HK? Pro-democracy activism is not a characterisation I’d use for what’s happening there. See this:

    “…the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province…”

    Oh please. Don’t tell me that you swallow uncritically western propaganda on Xinjiang province? Read this; you surely need to:

    As a first principle, view with scepticism anything out of the western MSM, about China generally, and especially about Xinjiang. Many of us come to blogsites like this one to get away from western propaganda, not to read more of it!

    With regard to the incident on UoA campus; a relative (not Chinese) is a student at UoA. On the day that incident occurred, said relative received an e-mail – addressed to relative by name – and signed by Stuart McCutcheon, the VC. Here’s what was sent: presumably to every student on campus (and, it turns out, to staff as well):

    “I have been informed of recent disagreements and disputes on campus between students who have different views of the events in Hong Kong.

    An incident on Monday led to what we consider to be a conduct issue, and the University is investigating it accordingly.

    I have asked Campus Security to ensure that these situations do not allow the safety or security of any member of the University community to be placed at risk.

    It is my expectation that all members of our community will respect our commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech. This means that while people may have different opinions on a matter, they are expected to express those opinions in a manner that respects the rights and opinions of others.”

    In my view, that’s downright creepy; it wouldn’t have happened in my day. As I pointed out, my relative isn’t Chinese and didn’t witness the incident in question. That message is designed to shut people up. So much for free speech, and the uni as critic and conscience of society.

    • Well thankyou so much D’Esterre for some sanity. What a flippin beatup. I’m beginning to worry about the slipping of this site towards the mainstream too. China has always been the hardest topic to maintain some rational and evenhanded discussion.

    • 100% right D’Esterre.

      In fact the reason why the protests in Hong Kong are lasting for so long is because the police have been so conciliatory, as has the government.

      The protesters have gone inside the legislative council and trashed the place. No one died or was even seriously injured.

      Now I dare anyone try to do the same in the US. Put on a mask and try to rush Capitol Hill or the White House with an iron rod in your hand. See what happens. Chances are one will end up with a nice fresh red hole in the forehead.

    • The argument that members of a Moslem ethnic group in China are a threat to China (and or the one Belt and Road initiative) on the one hand and on the other their suppression in China is a media beat up is singularly incoherent/inconsistent.

      The argument that those, demanding that the agreement for 50 years of self government in Hong Hong be honoured by China, are in fact seeking to separate Hong Kong from China via a “democratic colour revolution” is pro Beijing propaganda. The agreement for Hong Kong allowed self government. Those in Hong Kong asking for it to be upheld by China have legitimacy on their side. Whether Beijing sees democratic self government there (until 2047) as posing an existential threat to the continuance of its mainland order of rule until then is irrelevant to the agreement that was made. It speaks to the credibility of China as a partner in agreements – such as international norms in defining borders (South China Sea).

      For mine, it’s sad when a nation with the largest and most powerful economy and military on earth is an insecure bully and threat to humanity (whether the current or the next in line) and has its brainwashed patriotic minions behaving in ugly, loud and brutish ways on their behalf.

    • The young HK beauty queen student wannabe activist faked it, she chose to fall, after only lightly being touched, what a joke.

  5. Man. How the mighty have fallen. It seems no longer possible to consider Chris anything more than a mouthpiece for the establishment. Another fear monger prepared to beat up any story regardless even of the video evidence used to support the beatup. I guess its just the usual tactic of assuming that most people will read the article and absorb the content without checking out the source.

  6. Cool programme.

    Martyn should try looking at some news outside the Western mainstream corporate media.

    The world is a changin’…..the people of the world shat on by the West for centuries are rising.
    A multipolar multilateral world is in the making, and the people previously shat on and kept in a state of underdevelopment by the West are rising.

    That should not mean those in the West have anything to fear. Only those who want to maintain hegemony and continue to boss everyone else around and stay bullies for ever will be pissed off about this.

  7. I would have sin binned the aggressive Chinese player for getting in the woman’s face like that and pushing her, but after watching her massive Hollywood dive straight out of premier league, I give a penalty both ways, and let the game continue.

  8. That Hong Kong female student was hardly ‘pushed’, she was touched, and chose to fall, the video makes it so blatantly obvious. She was faking, and trying to get headlines, exploiting a bit of an argumentative situation.

    BS is going on on both sides.

  9. It is bloody naive to think that New Zealand’s government can raise the moral index finger, and try to lecture Mainland China and students misbehaving here.

    New Zealand is so small, so irrelevant, it is so economically dependent on trade with Mainland China now, it is not even a ‘David’, it is a mouse that will escape into the nearest hole or crevice, should someone at the top of Mainland China’s government or establishment sneeze.

    It is too late, if NZ Inc dares send such persons home, wait for the next trade hiccups at the border sending a reverse message to politicians and business people here.

    Then it will hurt in the pocket, so do not expect this government to take any decisive steps, nor the heads of universities, also desperate for overseas students, many from Mainland China.

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