Australian students concerned personal data was shared to Chinese social media after they voiced support for Hong Kong

  • Students in Australia have raised concerns their personal data has been shared on Chinese social media after they showed support for protests in Hong Kong, according to the BBC.
  • People around the world have held rallies in a call for unity with Hong Kong protesters, with rallies held in New York, Washington, Europe and Australia.
  • In Australia, students at the University of Queensland have clashed in parallel rallies supporting Hong Kong and Beijing. Last week, students were punched and shoved in what began as a peaceful sit-in in front of the university.
  • Several students that participated in the University of Queensland protests told the BBC they felt threatened by Chinese students, and said they knew of cases where student’s personal information was shared onto Chinese social media sites.

Students in Australia have raised concerns that their personal data has been shared on Chinese social media after they showed support for protests in Hong Kong.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong for nearly two months of protests, some of which have turned violent. What initially started as a protest against a proposed bill that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China for trial has ballooned into a fight to uphold democracy in the semi-autonomous region.

People around the world have shown their support for ongoing protests, with rallies held in New York, Washington, Europe and Australia.

In Australia, students at the University of Queensland have clashed in parallel rallies supporting Hong Kong and Beijing. Last week, students were punched and shoved in what began as a peaceful sit-in in front of the university.

Students that participated in the protests told the BBC they felt threatened by Chinese students, some of whom became violent.

Christy Leung, 21, said a man attacked her and forcibly removed a poster out of her hand.

Read more: Hostile protests in Hong Kong are unlikely to end anytime soon unless world leaders address Chinese interference, activists say

“Some of my male friends moved to get in front of me and to stop him, but I felt like he was trying to hurt me. He choked one of the guys in the fight,” she said.

It wasn’t just during clashes the students felt unsafe – some students claimed they had personal information and phtographs of themselves shared on Chinese social media.

Leung, along with Phoebe Fan, 22, another female student at University of Queensland, told the BBC they felt disturbed and scared when they found pictures of themselves being shared with comments from users calling for them to “face consequences.”

They added one of their friends also had his personal information, including his passport, marriage certificate and student ID, leaked on Chinese social media platform Weibo. It was shared with a caption that read “Don’t worry, there won’t be a peaceful life for him in Brisbane.”

The University of Queensland said it was following up on the campus clashes but did not address allegations that students’ personal information was being shared online.

“The university is committed to protecting freedom of speech, and has zero tolerance for violence and intimidation,” a spokeswoman said, according to the BBC.

The clashes in Australia come as protesters in Hong Kong have heightened calls for foreign intervention, a move that China has continuously denounced.

Last week, Beijing warned that protests in Hong Kong were approaching a tipping point, and broadly hinted that it was prepared to step in following an off-shoot protest that trashed its government liaison office in the city.