September 21st 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Federal Government should abolish Renewable Energy Certificates

ENERGY BP annual Review shows consumption, production up

CANBERRA OBSERVED NSW Labor caught in Panda's paws doing 'whatever it takes'

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Religious discrimination bill: A litany of questions

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Boris' brinkmanship shakes up Britain, EU

WATER POLICY Angry farmers protest over Murray-Darling Basin Plan ... again

TECHNOLOGY Are we the dumbest devices in the room?

HISTORY AND POLITICS Lord Acton, nationalism and multiculturalism, Part 2

LITERATURE D.H. Lawrence: The Modernist in exile

MUSIC Dialectical transcendence

CINEMA The Farewell: Elegant and bittersweet

BOOK REVIEW Owning up to market imperfections

BOOK REVIEW Heroism and faith under tyranny

BOOK REVIEW The love that comes after love is gone


EDITORIAL Gladys Liu controversy ignores reality of China's interference

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Gladys Liu controversy ignores reality of China's interference

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, September 21, 2019

The Hong Kong-born federal member for Chisholm, Gladys Liu, certainly has questions to answer over her membership of organisations controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

Gladys Liu

But the way in which the ALP and the media have run the controversy, purely to embarrass the Morrison Government and the newly elected MP, ignores the underlying issue of China’s extraordinary attempts to interfere in Australian politics. China is also doing so throughout the Pacific, and in neighbouring countries, including Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste.

The ALP is hardly in a position to claim the moral high ground when its NSW General Secretary is embroiled in a scandal involving an illegal donation of $100,000 cash from a Chinese billionaire, Huang Xiangmo, who himself has close connections to the Chinese Communist Party.

Sam Dastyari, a former ALP senator from NSW, was forced to resign from Federal Parliament in 2017, following allegations the company connected to the same Chinese billionaire had paid some of his personal expenses.

Dastyari also reportedly took all-expenses paid trips to China paid for by friendship groups controlled by the Chinese Government. He subsequently expressed sympathy for China’s push to control the South China Sea, which extends down as far as the Philippines and Indonesia.


What is significant in all this is that the Chinese Government is engaged in high-level efforts to subvert the major parties in Australia and, ultimately, to shift Australia from the Western Alliance into China’s sphere of influence.

The issue was raised recently by the retiring head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, in an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

Mr Lewis identified three major threats to Australia: foreign interference and espionage; terrorism; and cybersecurity. While he did not specifically mention China, it was clear from his remarks that China is the most serious problem in relation to the first and third of those threats.

He said: “It’s my view that currently the issue of espionage and foreign inter­ference is by far and away the most serious issue going forward.

“Terrorism has never been an existential threat to established states – for weaker states, yes, but for a place like Australia terrorism is not an existential threat to the state.

“It is a terrible risk that our populations run and it is a very serious matter which must be addressed every day: the counter-espionage and foreign interference issue, however, is something which is ultimately an existential threat to the state.”

China’s influence is also evident in Australian universities and education departments.

Many universities have close working relationships with their counterparts in China, all of which are agencies of the Chinese Communist Party, and the Chinese Government has been successful in getting Confucius Institutes, staffed by Chinese Government appointees, into Australian universities and schools.

It is undoubtedly true that Australia’s dependence on exports to China has muted criticism of China’s appalling human rights record, its actions against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, its persecution of Tibetans and Muslim Uyghurs, its barbaric execution of Falun Gong practitioners, who have been murdered to supply human organs for transplants, and its persecution of the growing Christian minority in China.

While China is far from being the only state sponsor of cyberespionage, Beijing has been extremely active in this field, using it to steal technology, as well as the personal information of millions of people in the West.

It was concerns about cyberespionage that prompted the Federal Government to ban the involvement of Chinese technology company Huawei in the rollout of Australia’s 5G network, which would potentially have given Huawei access to communications traffic across Australia.

This is not an exaggerated fear. Three years ago, American security company Kryptowire revealed that data – including personal information – has been sec­retly supplied to Beijing from software installed on millions of Chinese-made smartphones.

Our neighbourhood

China’s influence also extends to the small island states in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Australian recently reported that a Chinese Government-owned company is the major contributor to the building of new infrastructure in Timor Leste connected with the development of a new gas project, the Greater Sunrise field.

This follows China’s “gift” of government buildings, including Timor Leste’s Foreign Ministry building, defence headquarters and its Prime Minister’s office.

Papua Guinea’s new Treasurer also said that if Australia was unable to assist his country deal with its government deficit, it might have to turn to Beijing.

Australia’s casual attitude towards its smaller neighbours has created the circumstances in which China has established a major foothold in the region.

Both major parties need to get serious about the problem of foreign interference, including in pre-selections and donations, to counter Chinese attempts to subvert public officials in Australia.

Patrick J. Byrne is national president of the National Civic Council.

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