One of the photographs in Clive Hamilton’s ground-breaking expose ‘Silent Invasion China’s influence in Australia is of ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt holding one end of a massive Chinese flag. The other end is held by ANU PhD student and Chinese Communist Youth League activist Lei Xiying, described by the CCP as “an outstanding youth representative of online ideological construction”.
This “outstanding youth” wrote on his Weibo (the Chinese version of Facebook), “when I graduate I going to immediately leave dumb c-nt unsophisticated Australia. America’s political running dog without even an ounce of capacity for independent thought”. When asked about Lei, Hamilton records, the ANU’s response was “he had the right to free speech’. No action was taken.
So, ironically, we were yesterday listening to author Hamilton, as part of the ANU’s “Meet the Author” series, talking about his book, which had been politely declined by publishers, including university publishers, terrified of retribution action from Beijing.
“Can you imagine,” he asks, “if an Australian wrote a book critical of the United States, that the Americans would take action against him, stop publishers from printing the book ?”
It is pertinent to remember, at this point, that in the thirties, German Jewish authors rallying against the coming horror were also rejected by their nervous publishers (Thomas Mann had to rely on a Dutch publisher after his Berlin publisher turned him down). Don’t think this would ever happen here? It did, to Clive Hamilton. Bravo Hardie Grant, brave small publisher for having the courage to publish what has become a must-read best-seller.
And the proof is that the “Meet the Author” is completely sold out, with late-comers forced to sit on the stairs or stand, in the Crawford’s Molonglo Theatre, as Hamilton spoke of his first awareness that something was rotten in Australian politics.
It was, he tells us, on the day the Olympic baton travelled towards that symbol of our democracy, Parliament House. A small group of Tibetans were clustered, peacefully, holding protest banners. “And suddenly, there was this mass of hundreds of chanting Chinese students, vastly outnumbering the police.” Hamilton retreated. The Tibetans fled.
Writing a book is hard, lonely, a painstaking endeavour but Hamilton was also termed xenophobic and racist – by Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, among others, who called ‘Silent Witness’ an ‘outrageously racist book’.
The former Greens candidate Hamilton spoke of how the admission by NSW Green spokesman David Shoebridge that, under pressure, he, Shoebridge, could no longer support ‘Silent Invasion, was a blow. Shoebridge, formerly a supporter of the banned Falun Gong movement, buckled under sustained pressure, both from within the Greens and externally.
Hamilton refutes the racism charge. “People said there would be a wave of racism against Australian Chinese, some of whom have been here for generations. It never came.” He believes that an incoming Labor government would run dead on the issue of Chinese interference.
Many Chinese who come here with their families stay silent fearful of retribution if they speak or act against the CCP.
Former Parramatta councillor John Hugh, spokesman for the Australian Values Alliance, Australians worried about Beijing’s interference in Australian political and cultural life, was stopped from entering Shanghai when he and his mother arrived, carrying his father’s ashes for burial in China and last year UTS professor Chongyi Fend was detained in China for over a week apparently for criticism of Beijing’s policies.
So what is to be done. Has the rot gone too far, with both sides of politics eagerly standing in line for Chinese largesse? Hamilton recommends we stand up to the bully in the playground, push back.
To refute that new, dangerous view that Australia is on China’s radar; Hamilton recounts the journalist Philip Wen being told, by the brother of a billionaire Chinese, “In time the world will be China’s”. The billionaire now controls the Port of Darwin through his company, Landbridge Group.
Last evening Flat White sat next to an old Parliament House colleague. He is Australian-Chinese and deeply worried about what is happening in Australia. We should all be.
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