Toroama & Marape get down to business
Reforming a parliament of men

Australia’s damaging China witch hunt

FlagsSU-LIN TAN
| South China Morning Post | Edited extract

Link to the full article here

Australia anti-Chinese megaphone diplomacy (toned down just a little recently) has caused offence to China which has retaliated with selective trade bans. Papua New Guinea needs to ensure that its own important relations with China are not being caught up and impaired by Australia’s leaden foot and its tin ear - KJ

________

HONG KONG - Two years ago, I made the “mistake” of tweeting a single word – “yawn” – in response to Australian foreign minister Marise Payne’s decision to place tackling the Xinjiang problem at the top of her agenda on her debut trip to China.

My tweet was directed at politicians who used popular topics to drum up voter support at the expense of respect for a country’s sovereignty – no matter which country – and diplomacy that could pave the way for a better outcome for the issue at hand.

But the Twitter anti-China witch-hunters didn’t see it that way, not even after an explanation.

Certainly not several employees of the Australian and foreign government-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Instead, they launched a series of personal attacks on my character.

As an Australian journalist covering China and reporting on housing and trade, I’ve faced the full spectrum of bullying, threats and defamation when I pen articles that don’t outrightly ‘blame’ China.

And this isn’t just something that has happened this year over the stress of Covid-19, or as relations fray between Beijing and Canberra; in 2015, one reader left me a voicemail every day for a week calling me a cockroach and “Chinese scum” after I wrote about a study that showed Chinese buyers made up only four per cent of the Australian housing market.

Senator Eric Abetz
Senator Eric Abetz - demanded Chinese Australians show their loyalty by publicly condemning the Chinese Communist Party

However, nothing compares to what three Australians with Chinese heritage endured at a parliamentary inquiry a few weeks ago, when Australian Senator Eric Abetz demanded they publicly condemn the Communist Party, sparking a public backlash and a potential investigation into his conduct.

What we are seeing is no longer just banter over facts and figures, but the rise of ideological cleansing and cancel culture that seeks to extinguish the opinions of those who don’t conform to an ‘accepted’ view legitimised by popular media outlets and politicians.

It’s almost like a new religious phenomenon in which anti-China do-gooders are trying to reprogram the ‘heretics’ who either don’t have a view of China, don’t care much about China, don’t have any facts or experience of Chinese matters or, worse, the likes of me – those who have a nuanced view of China or are just reporting the facts as they are.

This is concerning, because this phenomenon undermines the very thing this group of people are trying to support – democratic values that include the freedom to express any political opinions, and the right to free speech.

As Linda Jakobson, the founding director and deputy chair of Australian think tank China Matters – which is funded by donations and until recently, by Australian government grants – said during a national security conference last week: “Surely, in a democracy, we cannot accept the use of the very tactics that we so abhor in [China], in other words, the silencing of individuals and the suppression of free speech.”

She’s right because defaming someone as a means of bullying them into silence seems to me like a slightly more obscure equivalent of the direct intimidation tactics employed by the Chinese government.

Worryingly, such an approach also turns people against each other while the real perpetrators – governments – are unaffected.

In a war, there’s collateral damage, and this seemingly weaponless one has still claimed victims.

Comments

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Andrew Brown

Sorry but it doesn't work that way. China is the fisherman and you are the fish. China dangles the bait of cheap loans rapped in friendship. You take the bait and are caught. You are no longer your own masters but owned by the fisherman. Look at Sri Lanka as a recent example.
People who offer you things are not necessarily your friends.

Corney Korokan Alone

Yes. You get exactly what you bargain for. For Papua New Guinea, though, we reject outdated, old cold war era nonsense on our turf.

We are also acutely aware of the 54-years of neglect, double-standards and the arrogant complicity of Australia's genocide in Melanesian West Papua.

Our family is being murdered and tortured on the economic altar of economic greed. The United States is also profiteering from Melanesian blood money in West Papua.

So we are not going to be brainwashed and misled to disown our own Melanesian brothers and sisters who have been in ashes mourning for over five decades. We are not going to sing the backward leaning kumbaya with you.

We are also very much aware of the mind-boggling ill-treatment of African-Americans in the United States. That is a 400-plus year blot that only gets amplified in modern day lynchings that the state sanctioned forces continue to mete out each day.

There is no sense of equitable treatment there and here.

So, we certainly do not tolerate Australia or the West's so-called self-importance parade about pitching your outpost in Melanesian turf and hoping we will join in your paranoia boat.

We clearly see Australia and the West's 'late to the party' aid funding realignments based on your security fears and miscalculations.

Melanesian is an open Pacific Ocean. We will welcome and embrace all friends, but not anyone over another.

The world is truly interconnected and is open for business. We have the absolute right to determine and chose who to do business and trade with.

Your entitlement is clearly misplaced if you thought otherwise.

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