International students participating in the student union elections in Adelaide say they have been threatened with being informed to the Chinese embassy about supposed anti-Communist slogans.
Oscar Ong, of the Progress student political party, said party members were alarmed when a message from a fellow student, originally posted on a personal page on the WeChat social message site, began to circulate widely.
"The students really feel uncomfortable and feel threatened," he said. "He says the Progress team was openly against China."
The message referred to a poster of the Progress party campaign that read "Non-Socialist Works" and reportedly stated that party members were against socialism and communism.
The students were campaigning for positions on the Board in the Union of the University of Adelaide.
More than 7,000 international students attend the University of Adelaide, with China as one of the main countries of origin.
Mr. Ong, a Malaysian-Chinese engineering student, said the slogan was "misunderstood" and that the message came from a rival political party.
"The threat is quite serious," he said.
"Chinese students are very, very scared of problems like this, especially [those] born in China. "
"Personally, I am really afraid of my personal safety, but I would feel that it is nothing compared to what a Chinese person would face."
Chinese students are very, very afraid of problems like this.
– Oscar Ong, Student
On its Facebook page, the Progress party describes itself as multicultural and apolitical.
The International Student Association Inc told SBS News in a statement that it had received "numerous concerns" on the subject.
"This has caused a real safety concern for a variety of students," he said.
Mr. Ong said he expected the university to investigate the problem.
"This is no longer a matter of student elections, this is a more widespread issue among Chinese students, they fear for their own safety attending university," he said.
A spokesman for the University of Adelaide said he does not get involved in holding student elections.
SBS News contacted the Union of the University of Adelaide to ask about the alleged threats, including comments that members of the Progress party were "anti-communist" and would be informed to the Chinese embassy.
A spokesman for the union said that its elections "are some of the most regulated and scrutinized at the national level" and that they are handled by an independent electoral tribunal made up of three people.
They could not confirm if a complaint had been filed.
"All complaints are confidential and are sent to the returning officer for transfer to the court."
"The results of the provisional elections are currently pending before the electoral tribunal for consideration, as a result, we can not provide further comments at this time."