What is Beijing up to?: A second ground group of China scholars has entered the debate on the government’s proposed foreign interference legislation, stating they are “deeply concerned by a number of well-documented reports about the Chinese Communist Party’s interference in Australia” and that “an open debate on the activities of the Chinese Communist Party in this country is essential to intellectual freedom, democratic rights and national security.”
Scholar’s split: This new statement from “Scholars of China, the Chinese diaspora, China-Australian relations, and Australia’s relations with Asia” is a response to a submission on the bill from 31 “scholars of China and the Chinese diaspora” that states they; “see no evidence … that China is exporting its political system to Australia, or that its actions aim at compromising our sovereignty,” (CMM Monday).
However, the new group warns, government and community, “must remain vigilant” against, espionage by “Chinese officials or their proxies,” interference with Chinese-language media in Australia, monitoring of Chinese students and “covert organisation” of political rallies by the Chinese Government.
“Should the CCP’s operations of interference be allowed to continue in Australia, they will fuel divisiveness between Chinese communities and other Australians, weaken the Australian government’s ability to communicate with Chinese communities and harm the democratic rights of Chinese Australians.”
Signatories include, Rory Medcalf, head of the ANU National Security College, who wrote in an earlier personal submission to the inquiry; “it is a fundamental test of Australian social inclusiveness, cohesion, equity and democracy that we ensure all in this country have freedom of expression, freedom from fear, and protection from untoward intervention by a foreign power.”
But not everybody is alarmed: Funnily enough universities with Confucius Institutes don’t have much to say about the debate. For years now US academics have questioned the role of CI’s, with the American Association of University Professors, warning in 2014 that CIs are arms of the Chinese state (CMM June 25 2014). When CMM asked Australian universities with CIs what they thought of this back then none responded.
The new letter from China scholars also urges vigilance against the Chinese government’s; “cultivation of prominent Australians in attempts to sway public and elite opinion.”
Gosh, who do you reckon they they mean by that?