Widespread protests in Hong Kong, and abandoned demonstrations in Auckland, show China's creeping censorship should be rebuffed.
In 1997 sovereignty over Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to China. To assuage concerns about residents losing civil rights to mainland China's arbitrary rule of law, Beijing promised to maintain Hong Kong's freedoms under the concept of "one country, two systems".
Events in the city over the past two months seems to show one country has taken precedence over two systems, and exposed long-suppressed fault-lines between the Chinese government and the hopes of many of its subjects.
Large-scale protests in Hong Kong began in June over a proposed law allowing the extradition of residents to the opaque courts and justice system of mainland China, but have quickly blossomed into calls for meaningful democratic representation.
The duration and scale of popular demonstrations in the city - more than a million people, or one-sixth the territory's population, attended one such march in June - show popular grievances are widespread and deeply-held.
And as these grievances have been ignored - with similar protests in 2014 resulting mainly in a long-running crackdown - frustrations have become heated. One such demonstration saw the local legislative chamber stormed, and a United Kingdom-era flag unfurled in the debating chamber. The message of which system protesters prefer is obvious.
The response from the local government has seen the use of riot police, rubber bullets and tear-gas. And, apparently, the letting loose of a white-shirted loyalist militia to physically attack protesters. Worryingly, reports from Asia yesterday said Chinese troops were massing on the border with Hong Kong.
Closer to home, in a worrying development, it appears China's refusal to countenance any opposition or protest has leaked not only into Hong Kong, but also across borders. In June the Auckland University of Technology abruptly cancelled an event marking the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
The events of June 4, 1989, where weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese capital were bloodily crushed by soldiers, are a sensitive subject for Beijing. The date has effectively been scrubbed from its history. A dystopian wonder of the modern world, China's great firewall which screens internet content on the internet for its billion-plus citizens, has buried Tiananmen Square and the cause hundreds were killed for deep down a memory hole.
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Chinese diplomats told the Vice Chancellor they took exception to the event and wanted it stopped. AUT responded by giving lip-service to the values of freedom of speech and assembly, and saying it had looked afresh at the event, discovered issues with the venue booking, and cancelled it at the last minute.
The Vice Chancellor added he and his university "had no wish to deliberately offend the government and people of China". The Chinese embassy praised his decision as "right and wise decision made by AUT".
Chinese men also allegedly pushed a woman at the University of Auckland to the ground during a protest there over the extradition law.
The voices of peaceful protesters - whether they be in Hong Kong, Tiananmen Square, or Auckland - are too important for New Zealand to quietly acquiesce to their silencing or censoring. Failing to stand up for the basic democratic right of protest is neither right nor wise, and makes it appear that New Zealand and China are two countries operating under one system.