Opposing protesters clashed during a pro-Hong Kong rally taking place in Melbourne, Australia outside of the State Library on Swanston Street.
The rally began around 7 p.m. and the crowd gradually grew to over 1,000 people with over half of attendees being pro-China protesters.
Things getting really heated here at the Melbourne rally in support for Hong Kong. Pro-china supporters attempt to interrupt the protest #HongKongProtests #antiELAB #freedomhk pic.twitter.com/uNHXnd8cZS
— Timothy Lam (@timlam_) August 16, 2019
The scuffle broke out when pro-Chinese demonstrators disrupted the rally by holding up a Chinese flag above the crowd while cheering, effectively drowning out the organizer of the rally.
Here is a video showing a China nationalist attacked an @abcnews journalist in Melbourne during the clash between pro China groups and free HK group demonstration tonight. He escaped after the attacking.@VictoriaPolice should look into it.
— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) August 16, 2019
Among the chaos, a female Hong Kong native was violently shoved by the pro-Chinese attendees while an ABC cameraman was pushed by a man who also appeared to be attempting to attack his equipment.
— Zach Hope (@Zhope10) August 16, 2019
Police intervened when the pro-Chinese protesters moved towards the pro-Hong Kong area of the rally but at this point, the groups had been scuffling for roughly 40 minutes. Authorities eventually formed a barrier while the two groups returned to their respective sides.
As the evening went on, pro-Hong Kongers were outnumbered by the pro-Chinese protesters who began chanting “one China” in Mandarin and called the opposing side “rubbish.”
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
According to The Age, one pro-China demonstrator yelled, “if you don’t like it, leave the country.” To which someone yelled back, “we’re in Australia.”
Around 9:30 p.m. police began dispersing groups as most protesters started to leave.
Later in a statement, the Victoria Police said that while no injuries were reported, two men had been interviewed regarding a case of unlawful assault and were eventually released pending summons.
The authorities stated, “We respect the right of the community to express their views peacefully and lawfully but will not tolerate those who break the law or engage in antisocial or violent behavior.”