The appearance of the billboards has sparked a backlash from the Hong Kong community.
The billboards, which are identical in nature, showcase a majestic view of Hong Kong. They’ve been spotted in Sydney and Melbourne. Source: Supplied
Joe (not his real name), a Victoria Hongkongers Association representative, spoke to SBS News on the condition of anonymity because he fears for the safety of his loved ones who reside in Hong Kong.
Another community group, Australia-Hong Kong Link has also lodged a formal complaint.
He said on Twitter he was “disturbed to see a billboard in my electorate glorifying Hong Kong’s supposed ‘new era’ after the brutal crackdown on democracy activists and civil society.”
Erosion of Rights
SBS News has received confirmation that the billboards were ordered by the Hong Kong government through its Economic and Trade Office based in Sydney. The office also confirmed that a total of 14 advertisements have been commissioned across Sydney and Melbourne in the month of August.
Advertising laws the ‘wild west’
Ad Standards told SBS News in a statement that while “we understand some members of the community may find this billboard offensive, this type of content falls outside our jurisdiction.”
Joe (not his real name), a Victoria Hongkongers Association representative who spoke to SBS News on the condition of anonymity, said the Association has received more than 15 complaints about the billboards from Hongkongers based in Melbourne. Source: Supplied
The organisation said “Australia’s advertising self-regulation system is designed to regulate commercial marketing, and advertising of products and services” and doesn’t cover political advertising.
SBS News has contacted the Chinese Embassy in Canberra for comment.