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Where is China-bashing rhetoric in Australia from?

(Xinhua)    09:04, September 02, 2020

-- While scientists work to "spread sunshine," some Australian media reports are "casting shadow," said Wang Xining, minister of the Chinese Embassy to Australia.

-- A large amount of Australian newspapers are owned by News Corp Australia, one of Australia's largest media conglomerates, which is part of the U.S.-based News Corp.

-- The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) was taking nearly 450,000 Australian dollars (about 311,000 U.S. dollars) from the U.S. State Department to track Chinese research collaborations with Australian universities.

-- In the gloating to U.S. President Donald Trump on the 5G decision, in the call for an independent pandemic inquiry, and by invoking the 1930s analogy, Australia has looked at once brazen and inauthentic.

BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Several Chinese academics are cutting off communications with their Australian counterparts and canceling plans to travel to Australia amid a rise in China-bashing rhetoric in the country.

According to a report published Tuesday by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) titled "China think tanks sever academic ties as hostilities rise," some Chinese academics have said it is becoming "almost impossible to collaborate with Australian universities because of the rise in anti-China rhetoric."

The move followed a biased investigative report by The Australian about China's Thousand Talents Plan. Citing U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, the newspaper intended to portray the foreign talent recruitment program as "economic espionage and a national security threat."

Photo taken on May 27, 2020 shows a worker outside the closed Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

MEDIA REPORTS "CASTING SHADOW"

The Australian Academy of Science said it would be "such a great shame if that (global research effort) was jeopardized because of vilification that has no grounds," while Universities Australia declared that most of the country's important research took place across international borders and "with Chinese researchers in some really important instances."

Wang Xining, minister of the Chinese Embassy to Australia, said that science and technology were an integral part of the China-Australia cooperation. "It has brought and will bring enormous good to our business, to our society and to our people."

"Everything goes between us along the bilateral agreement is in compliance with both Chinese and Australian law," he said, comparing the Thousand Talents Plan with Australia's Global Talent Independent Program, which had an office in Shanghai recruiting Chinese scholars for research in Australia.

While scientists work to "spread sunshine," some media reports are "casting shadow," said Wang, adding that the embassy was always asked questions based on "hearsay and gossips," which were "whimsical and absurd."

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out at the beginning of this year, the Herald Sun labeled it as the "Chinese virus."

After the arrest of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, an instigator of the Hong Kong riots and founder of the Apple Daily newspaper, some Australian reports portrayed him as a "hero," without interviewing those in Hong Kong who are against his stance.

Robert Ovadia, an Australian reporter, said on Twitter that "Lai's Apple Daily destroyed Hong Kong's peace and stability with deliberate falsehoods to warp perceptions."

"It is self-serving propaganda, no more, and certainly no champion of honest journalism or freedom," he tweeted.

A man surnamed Chen from China who has lived in Australia for nearly four decades told Xinhua that in recent years most reports he read about his motherland were "negative, with some even misleading."

"I have some Australian friends who had never been to China," he said, adding that "sometimes when they talked about their negative views about China, I asked curiously where were the views from. They were from local media reports."

Photo taken on June 23, 2020 shows the office building in which the Australian Strategic Policy Institute is located, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Chu Chen/Xinhua)

U.S. INFLUENCE BEHIND THE SCENE

Just as the accusation against the Thousand Talents Plan came from the FBI, American influence has been found behind much China-bashing rhetoric in Australia.

A large amount of Australian newspapers, including the Herald Sun and The Australian, are owned by News Corp Australia, one of Australia's largest media conglomerates, which is part of the U.S.-based News Corp.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) "was taking nearly 450,000 Australian dollars (about 311,000 U.S. dollars) from the U.S. State Department to track Chinese research collaborations with Australian universities," according to an article by Myriam Robin carried by the AFR.

Defense contractors like Lockheed Martin are also among the ASPI's sponsors.

The ASPI has fabricated reports on policies in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which the Chinese government has repeatedly refuted.

A member of the ASPI was a bylined contributor to the coverage of Wang Liqiang, who was reported by Australian media to have defected to Australia and confessed that he had worked as a secret agent in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but later proved to be a convicted fraud with a fake ID.

"I see it as very much the architect of the China threat theory in Australia," said former ambassador to China Geoff Raby.

While some Australian politicians have voiced their worries about the so-called "Chinese influence," some experts believe they are, in effect, under American influence.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference in Canberra, Australia, May 29, 2020. (Photo by Chu Chen/Xinhua)

In an opinion piece published by the AFR in May, Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University, noted that the Australian government framed its call for an independent inquiry into the origin of COVID-19 as "an investigation of Beijing's culpability for the outbreak," which was a mistake.

"The most likely explanation is that he (Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison) did it to please Washington," said the professor. "The Trump administration is plainly determined to talk up China's responsibility for the pandemic, both to deflect domestic criticism of its own woeful and at times farcical mismanagement of the crisis, and to score points against Beijing in their escalating geopolitical contest for influence in Asia and globally."

A similar viewpoint was expressed by James Curran, a non-resident senior fellow at the United States Studies Center and professor at the University of Sydney, in an article published on Tuesday by the AFR.

"In the gloating to U.S. President Donald Trump on the 5G decision, in the call for an independent pandemic inquiry, and by invoking the 1930s analogy, Australia has looked at once brazen and inauthentic. For all the existing differences between the U.S. and Australian positions on China, the perception amongst some Southeast Asian nations is that Australia remains too willing to do Washington's bidding," he said.

"Washington would not be concerned in the least about how this might affect Australia's standing in the region," he added. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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