A female student from Hong Kong was shoved to the ground while trying to break up a fight between other students who had been arguing over “respecting China” in relation to the city’s now-“dead” extradition bill.
The fight, which was caught on video, took place in a food court at the University of Auckland in New Zealand on Monday.
Serena Lee, 27, had been putting up signs with other activists on a designated protest wall when a group of male students started talking to her in Mandarin.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m sorry. Can you speak English?” Lee requested.
The male students, who are all mainland Chinese, continued to speak in Mandarin until one exclaimed, “Hong Kong is a part of China! If you don’t like China, get out of China.”
Lee, who argued that the matter is international news, clapped back, “Have you watched the news just like, recently? Yeah, it’s always on the news.”
Lee then asked a companion to translate what one of the male students had been saying, but it did not take long before another took the offensive.
“You’re not human,” one told Lee. “You’re a f***ing stupid pig, so you can’t understand what he’s saying.”
Shortly, things got physical between two men from both sides, prompting Lee to intervene screaming, “Stop fighting!”
At that point, one of the male students shoved her to the ground, while others called for security.
In an interview with the The New Zealand Herald, Lee said that she was not physically injured, “but inside me I am shocked and shaken.”
“The proposed law in Hong Kong could see the end of the city as we know it and our individual freedom, but I was stunned when people in New Zealand are also trying to shut down our freedom of expression.”
A change.org petition has since been launched demanding a formal investigation and asking the University of Auckland to protect the safety of Hong Kong students on campus.
Meanwhile, the mainland Chinese students also posted a video of themselves taking down the Hong Kong students’ signs.
In response to the incident, University of Auckland spokeswoman Lisa Finucane has announced that a formal investigation is underway.
“We are in touch with the students who have been involved and a formal investigation is underway following a video and notifications sent to the Vice-Chancellor and other senior members of the university.”
Finucane pointed out that students should express their opinions in a manner respectful of others.
“The Vice-Chancellor expects all members of our community to abide by our commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech. The University makes it very clear to students and staff that harassment, bullying, and discrimination are completely unacceptable.”
The incident comes a week after scuffles broke out between pro-democracy protesters and mainland students at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. There, the former group staged a sit-in supporting the Hong Kong protests and condemning China’s treatment of Uyghurs, the South China Morning Post reported.
Police have also begun investigating the Monday incident following a complaint. “We will be following up this incident and assessing the footage in due course,” a spokesman said.
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