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Australia

Australian universities condemn anti-Chinese posters put up on campus

Police investigating after racist fliers found at two Melbourne institutions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 11:20am

Australian police are investigating the appearance of anti-Chinese posters at two Melbourne universities on the first day of the new semester on Monday.

The posters, in poorly written Chinese, were put up at the University of Melbourne and Monash University on buildings and signs.

They said Chinese students were not allowed to enter the building and warned they could be deported if they did so. They carried the logos of the National Union of Students, Chinese Students and Scholars Association at the University of Melbourne, and the Monash Chinese Student Association.

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Staff at the universities immediately removed the posters and the student associations said they had not been involved in producing or distributing them.

Both universities strongly condemned the posters and contacted police to investigate.

Monash also spoke to student leaders after the posters were found on its Clayton campus, it said in a statement on Facebook.

The University of Melbourne said its campus was open to the public and it did not condone any acts of hatred or intolerance.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang on Tuesday urged the Australian authorities to handle the case properly. “The safety, dignity and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students in Australia must be protected with concrete efforts,” Lu said.

The discovery of the posters shocked and angered students, though many online commenters believed it was an isolated incident.

“Chinese students make up the bulk of overseas students at Australian universities,” one person commented under a news report on Sina.com. “The universities want to earn money from them and this sort of behaviour will only get in the way of that.”

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Another commenter, Jun Zhao, wrote in response to the Monash Facebook post: “Zero tolerance to this sick behaviour!”

While Stephen Bird wrote on Facebook: “Hope you find whoever did that and they get punished seriously.”

Linda Shu, a Chinese student at La Trobe University, which is also in Melbourne, said she had not experienced racism in Australia, and neither had her friends. “I find the locals quite nice and helpful, except that a friend of mine was robbed once,” she said. “There can also be misunderstandings about certain issues in China, but it’s friendly discussion – nothing more.”

Su Zhiliang, a professor in the College of Humanities and Communications at Shanghai Normal University, said most cases of prejudice against Chinese were isolated, and largely due to a lack of knowledge about China.

He added that many foreigners were ignorant about today’s China, and reactions could be based on the bad behaviour of some Chinese tourists and students at a time when they are heading overseas in greater numbers. “So it’s very important that we improve our behaviour when travelling or studying abroad,” he said.