Senate hearing decried as “McCarthyist” . . .
During an Australian Senate hearing on diasporic communities on Wednesday, a senator asked a panel of Chinese-Australian witnesses to “unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship.” Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, a member of the China-critical ‘Wolverines’ group of parliamentarians, raised the question after the three witnesses, all affiliated with policy think-tanks or the Australian civil service, made submissions on foreign and domestic pressures facing the Chinese-Australian community. All three witnesses affirmed that they did not support the CCP but decried the “loyalty test” after the hearing. One noted that the Senate has not asked similar questions of other Australians (including Abetz, whose great-uncle was a convicted Nazi war criminal). The hearing drew condemnation from a former prime minister, the opposition Labor party and the Race Discrimination Commissioner.
Foreign influence concerns rise as Sino-Australian relations nosedive . . .
The incident comes during what many have described as the worst juncture in Sino-Australian relations in recent memory. Over the past five years, a series of investigations uncovered an extensive network of CCP money and influence in Australia, leading to an anti-foreign interference law in 2018. The law laid the groundwork for the ongoing, controversial joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) into foreign influence in Australian politics. The ASIO claimed yesterday that it disrupted a foreign plot to “penetrate” Australia’s intelligence community and that foreign countries are “cultivating politicians” in Australia, particularly at the local level.
Protecting Chinese and other diasporic communities . . .
Lost in the media storm around this incident is the original issue behind the Senate hearing: protecting Chinese and other diasporic communities from foreign and domestic pressures. Recent reporting and parliamentary inquiries have revealed that immigrant communities from China, including Uyghur Australians, have faced “intimidation and harassment” from the CCP against speaking out about Chinese issues. The witnesses at the Senate hearing argued that racism and distrust have dissuaded Chinese Australians from active participation in politics and Australia’s China policy debates. To create a more inclusive political environment, they recommended strengthening minority representation in Parliament, acknowledging the diversity of political opinions within diasporic communities, protecting vulnerable communities’ freedom from foreign and domestic intimidation, and a renewed commitment to liberal democratic values and civic education.
- Foreign Policy: China learns the hard way that money can’t buy you love
- The Guardian: Eric Abetz refuses to apologize for demanding Chinese-Australians denounce Communist party
- The Sydney Morning Herald: I was born in Australia. Why do I need to renounce the Chinese Communist Party?