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An outspoken activist who held up a sign reading ‘F*** Xi Jinping’ in a busy Asian market could be indicted for the brazen stunt.
Drew Pavlou, 20, angered an angry crowd with the obscene message to the Chinese president at Eastwood Plaza in northwest Sydney on Saturday.
Pavlou quickly sparked an angry reaction in the busy mall as dozens of locals voiced their disapproval of the stunt.
The activist took to Twitter on Sunday to tell his followers that he had been contacted by NSW Police, who said they intended to press charges.
A NSW Police spokesman said an investigation was underway and no charges had been filed.
“New South Wales Police just called me to say I’m going to be charged for holding up a ‘Fuck Xi Jinping’ sign in Sydney,” he tweeted Sunday afternoon.
“They won’t tell me what the exact charge is and they won’t tell me if the men who physically assaulted us are being charged.”
Several of his supporters expressed surprise at the threat of formal charges, which Pavlou described on Instagram as “so unfair.”
‘Simple intimidation tactics. There is no law against obscene language and there is no law against insults,” one user replied.
“Unfortunately the police will treat his situation as inciting public unrest, and it was,” another commented.
Pavlou said that if he had to “potentially be beaten and charged for holding a protest” for speaking about the Chinese president, “so be it.”
A NSW Police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that officers were investigating a suspected assault that occurred during political protest activity at Eastwood Plaza.
There were no reports of serious injuries and no charges have been filed.
In footage of the tense standoff, the activist and a friend were surrounded by shoppers shouting insults, forcing officers to shield them.
At one point, a local man got into a fight with Pavlou’s partner, who was filming the stunt, and another bystander caught the confrontation.
Eastwood has one of the highest Chinese populations in Sydney, and Pavlou’s provocation provoked an incendiary reaction.
It only took a few seconds for many stunned buyers and sellers to vent their fury at him over the sign.
Pavlou posted footage of the confrontation on Facebook showing him surrounded by angry vendors in the Asian market, yelling insults at him.
‘Fuck off, you son of a bitch,’ one repeatedly yelled at him. ‘It’s freedom of expression!’
Another punches the sign and tells him: ‘America has genocide, not Xi Jinping.’
And several women call the man a coward and say ‘fuck you’ as he stands in the street with his hands behind his back at the abuse.
He tells the crowd that he is not a coward and that he has not threatened anyone, and invites them to beat him up while he has his hands behind his back.
Police eventually restored calm after they intervened to keep the sides apart.
“My point is simple: I should be able to insult a dictator like Xi Jinping in my own country without being physically assaulted or attacked,” Pavlou posted on Facebook.
“Australia is a democracy and we should be free to insult any leader, no matter how rudely, this is a simple principle of free speech.
“There is no way I would have been surrounded by 50 people and physically assaulted if I had held up a sign that said ‘F*** Scott Morrison’ in Sydney.
“Why should Chinese ultranationalists get a free pass to attack people in Australia if someone insults Xi Jinping?”
Pavlou was widely praised by his social media followers, who recognized his public conduct as dangerous, but felt he sent a strong message.
Take care, Drew! This is typical barbaric behavior from supporters of the Chinese Communist Party. I hope they will all be deported so they can enjoy their ‘freedom’ under Xi’s rule,’ one said.
Another said ‘that’s why people can’t and don’t like CCP supporters.’ How can we allow the dictatorship to spread its word in our country?
‘I bet those Chinese won’t dare to do the same by abusing their politicians in Beijing. Double standards of some Chinese.’
He was later suspended by the university that charged
Brisbane-based Pavlou was in Sydney to support Kyinzom Dhongdue, the Democratic Alliance candidate of Tibetan heritage for Bennelong’s seat.
In July 2019, at the height of the Hong Kong protests, Pavlou organized a protest at the University of Queensland in support of the Hong Kong democracy movement.
He was later suspended by the university that charged him with 11 cases of misconduct, but he was able to return and continue his political career this year.
In December 2021, he launched the Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance (DPDA) federal political party, pledging to fight corruption, protect human rights, address poverty and homelessness, and build a green economy.
Drew Pavlou Quick and Facts
- Daredevil activist Drew Pavlou enraged shoppers in Sydney’s north-west
- He held up a crude sign at Eastwood Shopping Centre saying: ‘F*** Xi Jinping’
- Some locals reacted furiously at the obscene insult to the Chinese President
- Activist claimed on Twitter he had been contacted by NSW Police on Sunday
- Police have said an investigation had commenced and no charges had been laid