Anger after Chinese delegate to Melbourne charged with rape of student

Song Jingsong was charged with raping an Australian university student guide in August

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 November, 2013, 3:09pm

Song Jingsong, a 43-year-old Chinese official who heads an urban planning institute in Guangzhou, was little known in China's social media until this week, when an Australian newspaper reported that he had been charged with raping a university student tour guide when he visited as a government delegate three months ago.

Song was bailed in August, on condition that he surrendered his passport and reported daily to police in Melbourne, reported Australian newspaper the Age.

Song applied on Thursday to change his bail so he could return to his job and family in China, said the report. He must now report daily in Guangzhou and return once a month to Victoria state in Australia.

The English language report was picked up by Chinese bloggers who translated it and shared on Sina Weibo, China’s popular social media platform on Friday.

It quickly drew thousands of comments and reposts from readers, who were angered both by the report and the fact that they had to find out the alleged criminal behaviour of a Chinese civil servant from a foreign newspaper.

Netizens pointed out that no word regarding Song’s arrest in Australia was ever mentioned in the Chinese media, including the outspoken and well-respected Southern Metropolis Daily based in Guangzhou, where Song lives and works.

The only online trace of Song that internet users were able to find turned out to be a few photos in which he appeared as a guest lecturer when speaking to a class of university students in Shenzhen in late 2012.

In a report published on the website of the Shenzhen university where Song was invited to talk, a person named "Song Jingsong" was introduced as the deputy chair of “Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute”, an organisation affiliated with the provincial Department of Housing and Urban-rural Development. He was also a member of Guangdong's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said the report.

Song had talked about the “regional collaborations among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau. “ Described as a knowledgeable and charismatic speaker, Song was reported as quoting a comment made by fictional character Harry Potter towards the end of his speech.

“When you make a mistake in school, you can start all over again; but it’s impossible to undo a mistake you make in the real world,” Song allegedly told his student audience.

Months later, when Song was charged with raping a student in Australia, he was given relentless criticism from his compatriots back home.

“Please never let him return to China - ask him to serve and labour in an Australian prison for the rest of his life,” a microblogger wrote.

“Now we have someone spreading the communist ‘seeds’ all over the world,” wrote another sarcastic reader.

Song’s hearing will resume next week in Melbourne, when his friend who is an Australian resident is scheduled to give evidence, said the Age report.

Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

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