Chinese embassy backs students tearing down ‘pro-Hong Kong protest’ banners in South Korea

Liu Zhen

The Chinese embassy in South Korea on Thursday defended the actions of two people, thought to be Chinese nationals, who were filmed on a university campus in Seoul taking down banners supporting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, calling for people in the East Asian nation to better understand the situation.

“Young Chinese students expressed their indignation and opposition to words and actions that harm Chinese sovereignty and distort the facts, which is reasonable and understandable,” it said.

Hong Kong student protests evoke South Korea’s 1987 campus rallies

The statement came after a man and a woman were caught on camera on Tuesday taking down banners saying “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Free Hong Kong, revolution of our times” that had been put up by students at Yonsei University during a show of support for the ongoing protests in the south China city.

The “Chinese-speaking” pair, who were heard telling the campaigners “what do you care about Chinese politics”, were under investigation and could be charged with property damage, Seoul city police said.

A man hangs a message in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement during a rally in Seoul. Photo: EPA-EFE

In a similar incident, more than 50 Chinese exchange students confronted 10 locals at Hanyang University in Seoul, complaining that they were interfering in China’s affairs.

As if to suggest ways in which they could interfere in South Korea’s affairs, the Chinese students wrote slogans on sticky notes saying things like: “Long live Kim Jong-un” – the leader of North Korea – and “Dokdo is Japan’s” – in reference to a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan claimed by both Seoul and Tokyo.

The embassy described the incidents as “emotional confrontations” resulting from the fact that what was happening in Hong Kong had not been objectively and truthfully presented to the rest of the world.

It also repeated Beijing’s line that China remained committed to “one country two systems” – the arrangement by which relations between Hong Kong and the mainland are managed – and that bringing an end to the violence in the city was a priority.

“We hope our friendly neighbours, the South Korean people, can understand and support that,” it said.

The statement said also that Chinese students overseas should abide by local laws and regulations, “be rational when expressing their patriotism”, and work hard to improve South Korea’s understanding of China and contribute to the friendship between the two countries.

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