Federal election 2022: Drew Pavlou’s China protest draws furious crowd

A political activist and Qld senate candidate has had to be protected by police after a protest against China’s president turned ugly.

A political activist, who is running for the senate in Queensland, has provoked a bitter reaction from a crowd after holding up an obscene sign that said ‘F**k Xi Jinping’ at an Asian market in Sydney.

Drew Pavlou sparked an angry reaction from bystanders who called him a “motherf**ker” and “son of a b**ch” for displaying the sign aimed at China’s president in Eastwood in Sydney’s north west.

The 20-year-old posted video to social media showing a group of people gathering around him and hurling abuse.

At one stage, the footage revealed a photographer who was filming Pavlou’s stunt, being pushed and later grabbed by a man from behind while he fought to get out of his grasp.

Pavlou claimed that there was an attempt to smash his sidekick’s camera and they had made a statement to the police about the “assault”.

Stunned stallholders and shoppers quickly fired up at Pavlou when he displayed the sign.

“F** you, motherf***er,’ one furiously yelled at him repeatedly. ‘It’s free speech!’

The activist described the situation as “chaotic” in a post to Instagram with the footage also showing a man rip the sign from Pavlou’s hand and stomp on it.

“America has genocide, not Xi Jinping,” another person screamed, while others accused Pavlou of being a coward and told him to “f**k off”.

He told the crowd: “We are against the dictatorship. We believe in democracy. Free Hong Kong. Free Taiwan.”

In video, Pavlou added his protest was non violent and “peaceful”, putting his hands behind his back and inviting people to come and hit him.

As the situation threatened to spiral out of control, police were called in.

Later, Pavlou spoke about the incident on Facebook, claiming he was physically assaulted, and said this would never happen if he criticised Australian prime minister Scott Morrison in the same way.

“My point is a simple one – I should be able to insult a dictator like Xi Jinping in my own country without being physically assaulted and attacked. Australia is a democracy and we should be free to insult any leader no matter how coarsely – this is a simple principle of free speech,” he said.

“No way would I have been surrounded by 50 people and physically assaulted if I held up a sign saying “F**k Scott Morrison” in Sydney. Why should Chinese ultra-nationalists get a free pass to assault people in Australia if someone insults Xi Jinping?”

The Brisbane man was in Sydney to lend his support Kyinzom Dhongdue, the Tibetan-heritage Democratic Alliance candidate who is running for the seat of Bennelong in the federal election.

“I was with Taiwanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Chinese campaigners when I held up a sign criticising a dictator in the middle of Sydney, as anyone in Australia should be able to do. It is not racist to criticise Xi Jinping,” Pavlou later added.

In October last year, the human rights activist well-known for his vociferous criticism of the Chinese Communist Party debuted his parliamentary team of Chinese-persecuted candidates for his political party Democratic Alliance.

The University of Queensland student was suspended from the institution after he held rallies against human rights abuses in China – one of which ended in violence – with claims he had breached the uni’s code of conduct.

Despite ongoing tensions between the university and Pavlou, he returned to later returned to his politics degree.

At one stage, he was in the process of suing the university for $3.5 million.

Originally published as Qld senate candidate Drew Pavlou’s China protest draws furious crowd

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