The Chinese community in Australia is diverse, both culturally and politically. It should be mentioned that the majority of overseas Chinese came from Mainland China; those who came from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Malaysia largely consent to the concept of freedom and democracy of the Republic of China and that of Western society.
I have resided in Australia for 20 years. Having come from Mainland China, I was once brainwashed by the fierce nationalism and political propaganda of my home country. I thus have an intimate understanding of the overseas Chinese who come from Mainland China.
1. Political divisions of overseas Chinese
Overseas Mainland Chinese hold different attitudes towards the Chinese Communist Party and can be classified into four categories:
The first category consists of those who advocate democracy in the Mainland. They are critical of the Chinese Communist Party and courageously air their stance against the regime.
The second category consists of those who understand the malevolence of the Chinese Communist Party, usually because their family members have been persecuted by the regime.
The third category is ethnic Chinese who cling to patriotic sentiment. They confuse the Chinese Communist Party with China, unable to discern the ruling regime from the nation, leading to misplaced feelings of patriotism, believing that love for the Communist Party equals love for the country.
The fourth category consists of those who forge connections with the Chinese Communist Party to further their personal interest.
2. Pervasive control of grassroots Australian Chinese community
Example 1: One Chinese grocery store owner made a variety of free newspapers available in his store. However, he exclusively forbade The Tiananmen Times and The Epoch Times. According to the owner, no newspapers critical of the Chinese Communist Party were allowed; he proclaimed himself a patriot. The same man was at the front lines in rallies against the Australian government’s stance on the South China Sea. Sadly, he did not realise that while enjoying the benefits of freedom and democracy, he sought to undermine these values by banning newspapers that advocated freedom and democracy for China.
Example 2: I once bought tickets to a mid-Autumn evening party organised by a Chinese community group. I was barred from entry upon arrival. When I questioned why, I was told that an official from the Chinese Consulate would deliver a speech at the party. Due to my opposing political view, I was deprived of my right to watch the show. If the party was by invitation only or free of charge, then I would have nothing to say. However, it was open to the public and it charged a fee for entry, yet I was still discriminated against on the grounds of my political opinion.
3. Cultural and political infiltration
In the last three decades, whilst expanding its economy, the Chinese Communist Party has been fighting to have its legitimacy recognised internationally. It has gone so far as to infiltrate and place itself deep within the economy, culture and politics of sovereign nations.
In Melbourne, a pro-Chinese Communist Party radio station runs a program every Sunday afternoon to broadcast its views on current affairs and listeners are able to call in to air their opinions on certain issues. There will always be one or two callers saying “how great the Chinese Communist Party is”, “The Chinese Communist Party has solved the issue of feeding 1.3 billion people and China has already become a democratic country, but in a different way.” Once, a person called to say: “We Chinese people in Australia have been discriminated against by other ethnic groups and such discriminations are present all the time…” This shows the prevalent “enemy mentality” instigated by Chinese Communist Party propaganda through Chinese language media within the Australian Chinese community. There must always be an imagined “enemy” from the West for the Chinese community to “struggle” against so that they can be “protected” by the Chinese Communist Party to wherever they migrate.
In the name of promoting Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party infiltrates various arms of society through bodies such as the Confucius Institute, performing arts groups and so on. For example, the Red Detachment of Women, a ballet that glorifies the Cultural Revolution and Red Guards, who are essentially anti-West and anti-Capitalist, was allowed to proceed in Melbourne last year. I had spent much effort protesting the concert and even approached the governor’s office to express my opposition. However, taking advantage of the West’s fundamental freedom of expression, the ballet proceeded unimpeded by our opposition. If the roles were reversed and any Western country was to attempt to perform something anti-Communist in Mainland China, the show would not be allowed to proceed.
In 2011, I spent $6,000 to celebrate the 100th-year anniversary of the Republic of China (Taiwan) at the Melbourne City Hall. The Chinese Consulate immediately responded by writing to the City Hall claiming that my event would cause riots and serious clashes. I was summoned by the Melbourne City Hall and spent hours explaining what the event was and why it would not cause any riots. We reached an agreement to increase security at the event and I was asked to pay for the extra security guards.
Political infiltration is the most formidable in its purpose; one is to buy Australian local politicians, another to ensure there are politicians inside the political circle to serve and speak on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. This is a great and direct harm to our national sovereignty, the integrity of our political system, as well as the national security.
The 2016 Melbourne City Hall elections saw an unprecedented total of 22 ethnically Chinese candidates. Many of these candidates are originally from Mainland China. They were hosted at a meeting by the Chinese Consulate where they were given careful instructions. Junxi Su has close connections with the Chinese Consulate and hence was supported by over 150 Chinese community groups in Melbourne. Su participated in the parade protesting the Australian Government’s stance on the South China Sea. It is obvious she embraces the Communist Party.
Overseas Chinese who long to see a free and democratic China should speak up to resist the infiltration of Australia by the Chinese Communist Party. The cancellation of the Chairman Mao tribute concert in Sydney last year was a successful example of our grassroots resistance of the Chinese Communist Party’s meddling hand. I hope that more members of the Australian Chinese community can stand up to shoulder the duty of safeguarding the democratic values of Australia.
Ruan (Frank) Jie is editor of Tiananmen Square Times and chairman of the Chinese Democratic Party Australia.