Uighurs, Tibetans protest opening of new Chinese consulate

Outside the Chinese Consulate in Istanbul. Photo: @12emma30/Twitter

The opening of the new Chinese Consulate on March 30 was protested by contingents of ethnic and religious groups with deeply-felt grievances against the Chinese government.

Uighurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong nationals, Taiwanese and Nepalese community members took part. Politicians and people from the Falun Gong and “Free Vietnamese” groups were also present.

A number of local residents, particularly the consulate’s immediate neighbours, were angry that they had had no power to stop the consulate from being constructed: fences were removed without warning; drones were deployed; and floodlights now shine into homes.

The consulate is a heavily fortified compound of eight large house blocks surrounded by 2.5–3 metre fences. It reportedly houses 10-12 consular staff, who also reside there, and service and maintenance staff.

It is said to be the largest Chinese Consulate in Australia. Given that there is a separate office in the CBD for visa applications, and all the other consulates in Adelaide are just single offices operating part-time with Honorary Consuls, why is it so big?

The corporate media has suggested it is a spy base — grist to the mill of those who fear China’s role in Australia.

Former defence industry person Independent Senator Rex Patrick criticised the Liberal SA Premier for opening the Consulate, saying the Chinese government had a “track record of engaging in political interference, espionage and cyber attacks in Australia”. Greens MLC Tammy Franks expressed solidarity with the Uighurs and Tibetans and questioned how much had been spent on the very large police presence on the day.

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