Far-right protesters picket Chinese consulate in Sydney over ‘real estate invasion’

By Liu Jianxi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-1 0:13:01

Australian activists protested against what they described as a "Chinese real estate invasion" outside the Consulate-General of China in Sydney Saturday.

The Party for Freedom, a minor far-right party led by Nick Folkes, has in recent days distributed leaflets in Sydney suburbs against Chinese home ownership as well as holding the protest. 

"There were dozens of people standing outside the consulate … It was a peaceful protest for about two hours," said the consulate-general of China in Sydney in a telephone interview with the Global Times. "People with different political views are allowed to express themselves … Anyone is welcome to state what they want," said the consulate.

The minister for multiculturalism for New South Wales, John Ajaka, called Folkes an "idiot" after his leaflet campaign, saying that "New South Wales is one of the most multicultural societies in the world and we are very proud of that," according to ABC News.

Rally organizers argued that "Chinese foreign ownership of residential property and assets is pushing the Australian prospective home buyer to the fringes of society," on their website.

Figures from property consultancy Frank Knight showed Chinese investment in Melbourne and Sydney doubled in 2014 to $3.5 billion, ABC reported.

Economists see Chinese investment as a driver of the Australian economy.

"Chinese investment can create more jobs and has played a big role in the Australian economic recovery. It's legal and reasonable for the Chinese to buy houses in Australia based on the country's policy," said He Maochun, professor of the Institute of International Studies of Tsinghua University.

The role of Chinese buyers in rising property prices was exaggerated by the protesters, said He, adding that buyers are not the only contributing factor to the issue.

Footage posted online earlier showed Folkes burning the Chinese flag along with images of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Chinese consulate described the organizer as "radical" by stating that "he protests against everything … Not only Chinese, but also the main political parties in Australia are all his targets."

The Australian government pledged to tighten up the examination process for foreign property buyers in February this year in response to climbing house prices.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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