China's ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian heckled, called 'representative of a genocidal dictatorship'

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg
Sydney, Australia Updated: Jun 28, 2022, 06:04 PM(IST)

A placard that read "Free Tibet, Free East Turkestan" was snatched from the hands of one of the protesters. Another protestor was escorted out by security while yelling "The University of Technology cannot platform a representative of a genocidal dictatorship." Photograph:( WION Web Team )

Story highlights

Since Canberra cracked down on foreign involvement and demanded a probe into the causes of COVID-19, and Beijing retaliated with broad economic restrictions, China and Australia have been at odds

China's newly appointed ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian faced heckling as he gave a speech at a local university in Sydney. Qian, who took up the role in January was speaking about the future of frosty relations between China and Australia when multiple protestors interrupted him. The protestors wielded signs demanding freedom for Tibet and Hong Kong, while others criticised China's treatment of the Uyghur people as well as the university for inviting a "representative of a genocidal dictatorship."

Faced with the heckling the ambassador said: "People who are coming again and again to interrupt the process, that's not expression of freedom of speech... this should not be welcomed."  

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The university "welcomes freedom of speech on campus... that right, however, does not extend to speaking over the top of invited guests," said James Laurenson, head of the Australia-China Relations Institute, which had invited Xiao to the campus.

A placard that read "Free Tibet, Free East Turkestan" was snatched from the hands of one of the protesters. Another protestor was escorted out by security while yelling "The University of Technology cannot platform a representative of a genocidal dictatorship."

Also read | Australia, China defence ministers meet for first time in 3 years

Since Canberra cracked down on foreign involvement and demanded a probe into the causes of COVID-19, and Beijing retaliated with broad economic restrictions, China and Australia have been at odds.

Attempts to placate are being made, however. The first ministerial meeting between the two countries in three years took place in recent weeks when Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles met with his Chinese counterpart outside of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

In his speech, Xiao asserted that the centre-left Labor party's victory in Australia's May elections had given the two nations' ties an "opportunity of possible improvement."

(With inputs from agencies)

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