The organiser of a Chinese nationalist luxury-car protest, where Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Maseratis were driven through Sydney decked out with provocative slogans, is targeting more Chinese students to join his club.
Former University of Sydney student Tony He, 27, organised the protest, leading a convoy of cars in a drive-by of the Indian embassy, on the South Asian country’s independence day.
Long-running tensions on the India and China border have risen over recent months following China’s attempt to extend a border road over the Doklam plateau, a thin strip of land bordering Bhutan.
China claims Doklam, and calls it Donglang, while India and Bhutan claim the land belongs to Bhutan. Both parties came to an agreement to diffuse the situation and withdraw troops on Monday.
On August 15, Mr He led 10 luxury cars past Sydney landmarks to the Consulate General of India in Sydney, with the cars covered in slogans including: “Borderline is our baseline”, “China: Not even a bit can be left behind” and “Anyone who harms China will be killed no matter how far the target is”.
Speaking anonymously to a Chinese-Australian news outlet last month, organisers said the protest was arranged to encourage overseas Chinese nationals to protect China’s sovereignty.
“The completeness of our country’s territory and sovereignty should be protected by every Chinese, especially overseas Chinese compatriots and students should have the sense of responsibility and obligation,“ the organisers said. “We hope more activities like this one can be organised, so to make more youth love and support our motherland.”
Mr He told The Australian his Auto Society car club protest was organised because he wanted “more people to know the facts” about the Doklam dispute.
“The Indian military crossed China’s border,” he said.
Mr He, an Australian citizen, said he would like to see his club become an “Asian Salvation Army” and educate young Chinese international students about life in Australia.
He said news of the parade had gone viral online in China and Australia and about 80 per cent of the feedback was positive. The remaining 20 per cent of feedback was from Chinese Australians who accused the group of being ostentatious.
“The only reason we used supercars was to bring more attention to the issue; it’s not to show off,’’ he said.
Swinburne University China scholar John Fitzgerald said Chinese nationalism was extending overseas, “fed by an ‘enemy mentality’ education policy endorsed by President Xi Jinping”.
University of Melbourne international relations lecturer Pradeep Taneja called the protest “bizarre” and said it could threaten ethnic harmony.
By PRIMROSE RIORDAN