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Kevin Rudd calms Weibo frenzy over attack on Chinese international students

FORMER foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd wields his influence on Chinese social media to restore confidence in Australia after a vicious attack on two Chinese students in Sydney. Luke Henriques-Gomes reports.

Chinese student and blogger Xuan suffered facial injuries after the attack.

On Monday, two Chinese students were seriously injured after the alleged robbery and assault of passengers on a suburban train in Sydney’s south.

Police said they made six arrests after being called to Rockdale Station at around 1am.

The victims, Alex Huang, 29, and Xuanhao Min, 24, were taken to St George Hospital for treatment.

In that time, Mr Min used Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo to post a graphic account of the attack.

In posts since removed, Mr Min wrote, “I really wish all of this was just a nightmare. However, the smell of blood in my mouth and body pains reminds me that this city is so dangerous.”

“A gang of hooligans attacked us. Our noses are fractured and our bodies are covered in blood. My friend’s cheekbone was crushed. They attacked us with glass and burnt us with lit cigarettes. My face is burnt and totally disfigured! Worst of all I really hated their racist comments.”

Mr Min alleged the attack was racially motivated and says the group called him and his friend “Asian dogs and pussies”.

He added, “When my friend tried to wipe blood from his nose, a teenaged girl stuffed my friend’s mouth with her tampon removed from her pants.”

In a further allegation, Xuan says another passenger told the attackers, “Rob them. They are Asian and they have got money.”

Mr Min posted an update yesterday, thanking the thousands of users who retweeted his posts and sent sympathy messages.

“Thanks to everyone for your care and help. The Consulate General in Sydney and our university have contacted us for the first time and helped us.”

The news has caused uproar in China, and brought about an online response from fluent Mandarin speaker and former foreign minister Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd took to his Weibo and addressed the 100,000 followers he has amassed since joining the Chinese Twitter equivalent earlier this month.

Writing in Chinese, he said, “I have a special interest in the experiences of Chinese students in Australia, a profound emotional connection and a sense of responsibility. Of course, I do not currently have administrative power, but I am still interested your experiences, good or bad.”

Another post read, “I completely dislike racial discrimination. I believe ensuring the safety of international students is our most basic responsibility.”

Kevin Rudd has amassed more than 100,000 followers on Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo.

In a statement to Meld, Mr Rudd’s office said he would continue using Weibo to respond to Chinese users worried about safety in Australia.

They also confirmed that he passed on concerns from Weibo users to Minister for Immigration Chris Bowen, the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and NSW Police.

Meanwhile, Australian international student groups have condemned the attacks.

Council for International Students Australia president Arfa Noor, said racially motivated crimes were particularly concerning for students, because anyone who looks or dresses a certain way could be a potential victim.

“The thought that the victim could have been anyone of them crosses every student’s mind,” she said.

Ms Noor said a strong message needs to be sent out that racially motivated crimes will not be tolerated.

“International students and their families consider Australia to be a safe and welcoming country and we have a duty of care to ensure that we provide them with such an environment during their stay here.”

The Chinese government has contacted NSW Police, but said Australia is still safe for Chinese international students.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Liu Weimin said this sort of thing happens in every country.

“And it’s the common goal of every country to try and improve public order and (provide) a secure environment for local citizens, as well as foreign tourists and foreign students,” he said.

Does this change your perception of Australia as a safe place to live and study? If you are considering studying here in the future, will this affect your decision? Maybe you use Weibo, help us by  letting us know what users have saying.Or simply join the discussion by leaving a comment below.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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