MELBOURNE, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Police in Melbourne issued a warning on Saturday after small scuffles erupted between supporters and opponents of the Hong Kong protest movement during a rally attended by several hundred people from the city’s Chinese community on Friday evening.
“We respect the right of the community to express their views peacefully and lawfully but will not tolerate those who break the law or engage in antisocial or violent behavior,” Victoria police spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement.
The police said that they interviewed two men in relation to “unlawful assault” and released them pending summons, after pushing and shoving took place at the rally organised in support of the Hong Kong protesters. Australian media reported the rally attracted 600 people at its peak.
No injuries were reported.
On Saturday, more than 100 people gathered in downtown Melbourne for another rally in support of protesters in Hong Kong. The Guardian reported that a handful of people began shouting at the group but police escorted them from the rally.
Similar small protests took place Friday and Saturday in other Australian cities.
Chinese now account for nearly 10 percent of the overseas-born population in Australia, according to government statistics.
China sends the most international students to Australia, accounting for 29 percent of the 622,000 total enrolled in May, according to data from the Department of Education.
(Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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