Chinese communities in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Sydney have begun holding demonstrations in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Nearly 600 pro-Hong Kong demonstrators gathered in downtown Melbourne, on Friday, Aug. 17, calling for solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters, who continue to flood Hong Kong’s streets and commercial centers, now for the 11th consecutive week.

Similar rallies are taking place in other major Australian cities throughout the weekend.

Heated confrontations began in Melbourne, on Friday evening, when a few dozen pro-communist supporters arrived and stationed themselves near the pro-Hong Kong demonstrations. The pro-communist China contingent hurled insults, lashed out to grab signs, and pushed at nearby demonstrators.

Police moved in quickly and formed a line to keep the two groups separated. Two people from the pro-communist group were arrested for unlawful assault. Both have been released, pending further investigation.

Similar demonstrations are beginning to take place in other global cities as well, as overseas Chinese continue to weigh in on Hong Kong’s brewing conflict between mainland authoritarianism and Western-style democracy.

Beijing, which has been trying to suppress news of the widespread dissent in Hong Kong, faces an uphill battle, as thousands of people use their smartphones and messaging apps to circulate footage of demonstrations sprouting up in major cities.

Hong Kong’s citywide protests, which began in earnest on June 9 and originally arose in response to a proposed extradition agreement with China, are now being characterized more broadly as “pro-democracy” demonstrations, by both the Hong Kong demonstrators and by Chinese authorities in Beijing.

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