Via the ABC:
Authorities are investigating after fake Chinese police cars were spotted in Adelaide and Perth amid pro-Hong Kong demonstrations across Australia, but the owner of one of the cars has told police it was a “joke”.
In South Australia photos have surfaced of a car — bearing Chinese characters — parked at various spots around Adelaide’s CBD.
SA Police told the ABC it was aware of the vehicle’s current location and was investigating if it has been involved in any offences.
Police in Western Australia also confirmed they had received reports of a car with Chinese police markings.
“WA Police spoke to the driver of the vehicle who stated he purchased the decals online,” a spokesperson said.
“He placed them on his car as a joke and after being spoken to by police has taken them off the vehicle.”
The sightings follow rallies around Australia in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators, with an event in Melbourne turning violent.
On Sunday, about 100 pro-Hong Kong protesters clashed with pro-China activists in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall.
The organiser of that rally, who goes by the pseudonym Charlotte, said she had heard reports about the police car, but was unclear about the owner’s motivations.
“There are people who feel intimidated by it … to be honest, I don’t really know what to make of it. I think it’s highly inappropriate, especially when you pretend to represent a foreign law enforcement unit in a Western country,” she said.
“Initially we thought it was a bit of a joke. We did receive reports of it a few days before our protest.
“Since this morning, I was told there was actually another one that started first in Perth, so now we are starting to get a bit concerned.
“Could this be an organised effort by the Chinese Government or is it really just two completely separate instances of a prank?”
SA Premier Steven Marshall described it as “quite a curious situation” but said police were investigating.
“My understanding is that the police are doing an investigation, they’ve been able to identify the vehicle, now they’re trying to figure out whether there has been any breach of any of the existing laws,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“Of course, it’s illegal to impersonate a police officer in South Australia, so the police are now conducting that investigation to see whether or not a breach of the state laws has occurred.”
Greens MP Tammy Franks said legislation needed to be tightened to prevent people from impersonating foreign police in Australia.
“It appears that our laws anticipate perhaps somebody impersonating an Australian police car but certainly not a Chinese cop car on the streets of Adelaide,” she said.
Ms Franks said the police car was “potentially intimidating and threatening, particularly ex-pats from China or people from Hong Kong and Taiwan”.
She said she would introduce a private member’s bill to “ensure impersonating police forces is illegal in South Australia and send a clear and strong message that we stand for peaceful protest and democracy”.
Foreign affairs commentator Keith Suter said while the car appeared to be “fake”, he was concerned about the presence of Chinese agents infiltrating the protests in Australia.
“It has no jurisdiction in Australia, but there certainly is an issue of the Chinese Government having its students spy on other students to make sure they’re not supporting the protests,” he said.
Charlotte, who said she wanted to remain anonymous to protect herself and her family in Hong Kong, said protesters had received threats from pro-Chinese elements online.
“It’s not like we are hiding our identity because we have something to hide. It’s more so because if we get found out … our loved ones or even ourselves can become endangered,” she said.
“There are reports of people who haven’t worn a mask being identified online, and they have been tracked down.”
Charlotte said her brother — who was recently in Hong Kong — had recently been involved in a peaceful protest that suddenly turned violent.
“It was completely peaceful, absolutely fine,” she said.
“The riot police showed up and then they started chanting and they started raising flags saying they were going to deploy tear gas and other weapons.
“What happened was — it was basically like Moses and the Red Sea. The crowd just split.”
Mr Marshall said he was “very concerned” by the situation in Hong Kong.
“We’re very concerned whenever there are protests like this, we have been seeing the fairly graphic images on our television now for a week regarding protests in Hong Kong,” the SA Premier said.
“We just hope those protests and the situation in Hong Kong can be resolved peacefully.”
She’ll be right. At The Australian:
Ms Chen, an advertising executive who declines to give her full name, tells The Australian that protesters believe China and the police are working to incite violence by planting undercover operatives among them.
“Everybody has talked to each other about the need to keep a peaceful mind and not do anything stupid. We know there is undercover police who will try to encourage people to do violent things. That’s why we have to calm down,” she says.
“Some of the people are police from China. They know what people do can trick people’s emotions. I believe that’s what the Chinese government want.”
Among those protesting at the weekend was John, a former Hong Kong police officer. He also didn’t want to give his full name — he still has friends in the force — but he says he felt compelled to stand up to the increasingly aggressive tactics of Hong Kong police in recent weeks.
Police became more hostile after protesters stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building on July 9, he says.
“Because of the 9th, the policy was changed and since then the police have gone mad,” he says.
“That’s my observation as a retired officer. The rules of engagement have changed and they’re more ready to use anything.”
Twitter and Facebook say they have dismantled a state-backed information operation originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.
Twitter said it suspended 936 accounts and the operations appeared to be a co- ordinated state-backed effort originating in China.
Describing it as a campaign “to sow political discord in Hong Kong”, Twitter denounced what it described as “manipulative” behaviour.
“This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China,” Twitter said in a blog post.
The social media giant is banned in the country. Twitter said some of the users appeared to be employing VPNs while others seemed to have accessed the website directly from mainland China.
“Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation,” Twitter said.
Facebook said it had removed accounts and pages from a small network. It said that its investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.
More at Domain:
Ultra-nationalist Chinese trolls are targeting Australian-based critics of the Chinese Communist Party in vicious online campaigns designed to shut down dissent.
…Journalist and comedian Vicky Xiuzhong Xu was abused and threatened online after documenting pro-China protesters who chanted at a Sydney rally on Saturday that Hong Kong sympathisers should “get the f— out”.
“It’s so humiliating,” Ms Xu told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. “Half of their words I don’t understand, it’s like Chinese internet incel language.” Incel refers to the “involuntarily celibate” – an online, mostly male community known for its hatred of women.
…“I expect to see more ugly scenes playing out in Australia, unfortunately,” she said.
Fergus Ryan, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, said the nationalists’ objective was a “chilling effect” on dissent, intimidating their targets into silence.
Where it with pride, Ms Xu. And The Advertiser:
UniSA vice-chancellor David Lloyd said all three SA universities had grown foreign student numbers significantly in the past year, but “the risk is around overexposure to a single market” in the midst of a global trade war and geopolitical instability.
“One in three of our (international) students are from mainland China,” he told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum yesterday.
“If you go to Melbourne or Sydney it can be one in two, or maybe higher again. That reliance on a single source of income is a risk.”
Prof Lloyd said the protest between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese students on Friday was the first rally on UniSA grounds in seven years.
It was “symptomatic of the delicate balance” unis had to find between cultural diversity and competing ideologies, and “the practical reality of market reliance”, he said. Adelaide University vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen blamed the federal funding model for making unis “addicted” to foreign student revenue.
Yet truly “global” unis had high proportions of foreign students and they greatly enlivened the CBD.
Does he mean with riots, psy-ops and intimidation?