1. We are proud to stand in solidarity with oppressed people fighting back anywhere in the world. We unreservedly support Hong Kong students at the University of Queensland organising in support of democratic rights. We stand with Uyghur students and condemn the concentration camps established by the authoritarian Chinese state.
2. The protest “Transparency 4 UQ: peaceful protest against Confucius Institute” scheduled for July 31 is not led, endorsed or initiated by oppressed people fighting against their own government. Rather it has been initiated by domestic students who are pursuing their own agenda, which is about combating “Chinese influence at UQ” as a supposed threat to Australian values and academic integrity.
3. This protest is not a solidarity action with Hong Kong or Uyghur students. We consider it irresponsible for domestic students who are not from a group oppressed by the Chinese government to initiate conflict around these questions. Domestic students will not face any repercussions from the Chinese or Australian state; more vulnerable international students will, and so they must consent to undertaking the risk. That is why we support following the political leadership of students from these communities.
4. We are concerned that this demonstration will further entrench nationalist divisions both amongst Australian and Chinese students. We oppose all forms of racial discrimination and are horrified by the anti-Chinese racism that has manifested online following the events of July 24. For example, students have evoked 19th Century anti-Chinese goldfield riots as an appropriate way to respond and blamed ordinary Chinese students for crimes of the Chinese government. This does not further any progressive cause and instead undermines the ability for students to come together in solidarity.
5. We oppose all corporate or governmental interference to the academic integrity of the University of Queensland, and have long advocated for well-funded, independent, and tuition-free universities. However, we believe the campaigns around Australia led by domestic students not from oppressed backgrounds against the Confucius Institutes are hyperbolic, racist beat-ups, sowing fear and suspicion towards ordinary Chinese students and workers. Australian students are not ‘under threat’ from Chinese influence; rather, the forces undermining academic integrity and living standards of Australian students are the Australian government and local university administration.
6. We hold the view that it is necessary to encourage solidarity between domestic students and international students from both mainland China and Hong Kong. However, the July 31 protest as it stands will further alienate, divide, and polarize these groups, making solidarity between them impossible.
7. On this basis, we call for the July 31 demonstration to be cancelled. It has hijacked what could have been an expression of solidarity into a nationalistic, and therefore racist, demonstration against Chinese students at UQ which will have ramifications beyond the campus. If it proceeds, we call for students to consider the arguments we have made and not attend.
8. As always we will continue to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong and Uyghur students and support any future campus or Brisbane-based actions they may organise for democratic, political and human rights.
9. We encourage any supporters of this sentiment at UQ or in the broader community to publicize this statement. Please contact 0430 483 626 to add the name of yourself or organisation as a signatory.