Australia

'Painful to watch': Gladys Liu calls for peaceful end to Hong Kong protests

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Hong Kong-born politician Gladys Liu has discussed the Hong Kong protests with SBS News.

Liberal MP Gladys Liu has called the ongoing Hong Kong protests "painful" to watch and urged for a peaceful resolution to the tension between activists and the government.

The Hong Kong-born politician told SBS News on Thursday "the sooner it's over, the better".

Gladys Liu at Parliament House in Canberra.
Gladys Liu at Parliament House in Canberra.
AAP

"What's happening in Hong Kong is definitely painful to see and I feel if the Hong Kong people and Hong Kong government can sit down and have peaceful dialogue, and work it out as soon as possible, it will be in the best interest for all," Ms Liu said.

SBS News repeatedly asked Ms Liu, the first Chinese-born woman elected to parliament, if she supported the cause of the protesters.

"I believe that democracy is important, at the same time I feel that people in Hong Kong and also people in the government should have a peaceful dialogue," she said.

Gladys Liu after delivering her maiden speech.
Gladys Liu after delivering her maiden speech.
AAP

Ms Liu has family still in Hong Kong and said: "they just want to get back to their normal lives".

Last month, Ms Liu told The Australian she admired the "passion and commitment to democracy" of the protesters but would not go as far this week, saying she does not want to "inflame" the situation.

SBS News also asked Ms Liu about recent revelations she was affiliated with the World Trade United Foundation, which has close ties to China's United Front.

ABC News has called China's United Front "a secretive international influence arm of the Chinese Government".

"My understanding at the time was that [the World Trade United Foundation] was trying to promote trade between Australia and Hong Kong and help community organisations," Ms Liu said, adding she left the group in 2016.

Gladys Liu on the campaign trail.
Gladys Liu on the campaign trail.
AAP

She said she "had no knowledge of an affiliation" with China's United Front.

Ms Liu won one of the most marginal seats in the country at the May election, securing Chisholm in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

In Chisholm, more people are born overseas than in Australia, with the most common places of birth being Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

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Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontations between police and protesters have plunged Hong Kong into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Satellite photos earlier this week appeared to show armoured personnel carriers of China's People's Armed Police in a sports complex in the city of Shenzhen in a possible sign Beijing is ready to use force against pro-democracy protesters.

Unrest In Hong Kong During Anti-Extradition Protests
Protesters occupy the arrival hall of the Hong Kong International Airport during a demonstration on August 12, 2019.
Getty Images AsiaPac

Chinese state media have said only that the exercises had been planned beforehand and were not directly related to the unrest in Hong Kong, although they came shortly after the central government in Beijing said the protests were beginning to show the "sprouts of terrorism."

With additional reporting from Reuters and AAP.

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