Fri, Feb 09, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Chinese infiltration not unnoticed

By Parris Chang 張旭成

In November last year, publication of Australian academic Clive Hamilton’s book Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State, which presents his research into how Beijing is extending its influence in Australia, was put on hold shortly before it was scheduled to go to press, on the grounds that the publisher was worried that it would upset Beijing.

This move was seen as an example of interference and ideological censorship by the Chinese government that threatens Australian academia and freedom of expression.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that “Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process, both here and abroad.”

He also said that this was making Australians feel anxious.

Turnbull has proposed legislation to ban political donations from abroad and foreigners’ interference in politics, and to stipulate that people who work and lobby for foreign interests must register as such.

A Chinese embassy spokesman responded by accusing the Australian government of being anti-China and said that news about “so-called Chinese influence and infiltration in Australia” was “made up out of thin air” and “reflected a typical anti-China hysteria.”

In a news conference on Dec. 8 last year, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said: “We are shocked by the Australian leader’s remarks, which show a lack of principle and simply pander to those irresponsible reports by some Australian media. Imbued with bias toward China, these groundless and unfounded remarks can sabotage China-Australia relations and are detrimental to the foundation of mutual trust and cooperation. We are strongly dissatisfied with those remarks and have lodged stern representations with the Australian side.”

New Zealand has also been seriously affected by Chinese infiltration. After it came into government in 2008, the National Party, quickly intensified its relations with Beijing in various ways, such as supporting China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

At least 10 former National Party lawmakers, Cabinet officials or their spouses have since become senior executives of Chinese companies or banks in New Zealand.

Even former New Zealand prime minister John Key is taking part in China-related commercial projects, and an unnamed Chinese buyer purchased Key’s private residence for NZ$20 million (US$14.4 million), more than the market price.

Yang Jian (楊健), a member of New Zealand’s parliament who was born and grew up in China, has been investigated by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. Masquerading as an academic, he was an instructor at a well-known Chinese military spy school.

He joined the New Zealand National Party, and quickly rose to prominence after becoming a lawmaker in 2011. He became a member of various committees, including the foreign affairs, defense and trade committees, and has on several occasions accompanied New Zealand’s prime minister on visits to Beijing.

University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady, who is also a fellow of the Wilson Center in Washington, last year published a paper on the Chinese government’s influence on New Zealand, in which she warns that the CCP’s political infiltration is already affecting the nation’s values and democratic ideals.

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