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CLIVE HAMILTON’S Book “SILENT INVASION” Is “Yellow Peril” And Sinophobia To The Extreme

I must admit, Australia is entering a very volatile time in terms of how it perceives Mainland China and subsequently how they treat Chinese Australians or any Asian who remotely looks Chinese. The air of sinophobia has been sniffing around and now it seems that targeting and discriminating anyone Chinese in Australia is becoming a norm. The worst part is, there is a certain level of acceptability by mainstream Australia for this sinophobia to occur. I will even go a level further and say that they are enabling this environment of hate and false racial accusations to occur.

Now one must remember that “yellow peril” in Australia is not a new thing. Really, it has just morphed and returned in a different form. During the 1800s Gold Rush period, the Chinese gold miners were physically attacked, arrested, racially vilified, killed and humiliated for being Chinese. There were many posters and propaganda put up by the Australian Government and media at the time to fear monger about the Chinese.

Back then China was a very poor and a weak nation, and is a reason why so many Chinese (particularly men) left their families to travel abroad (Australia being one of the destinations) to forge a better life for themselves and their family. Now it is 2018, and over the last few years we have seen the creeping up of the “yellow peril” in Australia.

The difference between the “yellow peril” of back then to the one of now is that China is rich and powerful and the Western mainstream or in this case Australian mainstream is unable to dominate this growth and rise. So they do what they do best and that is to make any Mainland Chinese and Chinese Australians into racial collateral.

Found in the toilets of the international student area at University of Sydney in 2017

The reason I am writing about this is because over the past few months, this “yellow peril” has just become worse than it has been exacerbated with accusations and allegations being thrown around that Australia has been subject to spying operations coming from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Chinese international students have been the subject of the mainstream media’s interest and they have been accused of acting as spies for the Chinese Government. Of course we can’t deny that there maybe some who are spies, but let’s face it every country spies on each other. American student groups also have spies, so do the British, German, Canadian etc. Why are the Chinese being sidelined? This has really got out of hand.

Of late, an academic from Australia’s Charles Sturt University – Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics, wrote a 350 page book titled:  Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State.

Here is the premise of the book via (ABC News):

In it, he alleges that a systematic Chinese government campaign of espionage and influence peddling is leading to “the erosion of Australian sovereignty”.
That erosion is caused, in part, by a recent wave of Chinese migration to Australia including “billionaires with shady histories and tight links to the [Chinese Communist] party, media owners creating Beijing mouthpieces, ‘patriotic’ students brainwashed from birth, and professionals marshalled into pro-Beijing associations set up by the Chinese embassy,” Professor Hamilton writes.
It also alleges that Chinese international student groups are complicit in this “spying”. 

Now Hamilton’s book was refused for publishing by 2 well known publishers, and you can imagine when a privileged man doesn’t get his way, how he would behave. To cut a long story short, his book has been published, but the damage is done, and the noise he and many others in Australia has made with regards to the Chinese Government’s intervention in this situation has caused so much angst and hate within Australian society. I have read the book, and it makes a lot of unsubstantiated claims backed by weak facts, and I conclude that it will perpetuate sinophobia and hate in Australia.

I am not denying that what Hamilton highlights is a legitimate concern, but my major issue with it is how these allegations will impact on the Chinese in Australia and more broadly how it will impact on the wider Chinese diaspora in Australia. Those Australians who have intellect will read it and take it as it is without being racist or prejudice. But we got to face the facts and realise that the majority of Australians are not intellectual in this way and will conflate their fear of the Chinese Government and its influence and hating on ALL Chinese people. This is where the racism and sinophobia occurs.

Image via Sydney Morning Herald

One must remember that no one has issues if you are opposed to a regime or a Government but the anger and hate needs to stop there. Alt right and white supremacist groups in Australia have embraced Hamilton’s book as an opportunity to go racist and tell all Chinese Australians to leave this country. It has literally been a field day for racists in Australia. Secondly, Hamilton will never understand the racial collateral he has created, nor will he ever face this racism and hate. I get he wrote this out of his own genuine concerns but he and others who support this book have failed to understand the impacts it has on the Chinese Australian community.

Another point, I wish to highlight is that these impacts are mostly felt among Chinese international students. I have spoken to many across Australia and they are feeling the fear and they are feeling targeted. This is felt the most among those who are studying at Universities in regional areas, where racism is a daily thing. My concern is about their safety and about the racism and targeting they will receive and experience. Where is their protection and where is their agency? A sad part of all this is that there are some Chinese who have a desire to be accepted by the mainstream Australian society who also behave in this manner. They will conflate their hate towards the PRC and support those who want to end Chinese migration into Australia. They are so consumed by their own political agendas to even be reasoned with when discussing the broader impacts. I get it, and I get their concerns about the Government, particularly those who have had negative experiences. But they need to learn how to articulate their opposition and stop siding with the white racists/supremacist groups who are using this as an opportunity to spread hate and sinophobia.

So back to Clive Hamilton – how has he been complicit in perpetuating racism and sinophobia? Well it is all the reasons mentioned above, but it is extremely ironic that an esteemed academic such as himself who upholds progressive and left wing views is also trying to oppress and silence those of us Chinese Australians who are critics of his book. As a privileged, Caucasian man he will never know how it feels to be discriminated and belittled by the mainstream society who really sees you as different and will get “yellow peril” alerts in their heads every time they see you. This is because Australia like all countries in the West are still majority Caucasian and when you belong to the majority you don’t ever need to be scared or fearful about being racially attacked and discriminated.  I have been avidly calling him out and seeking that he addresses the sinophobia coming out from his book. Instead of acting like an esteemed Professor ( who is very left wing thinking) he goes on the defensive and is very reactionary. Among others, I have been accused of being a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece by him and his supporters all because I am expressing my concerns over the racism Chinese Australians will face from his book as well as how he has made Chinese international students in Australia a target for racially motivated attacks.

But I am a peon. And he still attempted to silence me, when the point of his book was to talk about why the censoring by the Chinese Government in Australia is dangerous. He has also attacked Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner – Dr Tim Soutphommasane who is of Laotian Australian background about his criticisms of the book. Do you see a pattern here? Yes he is basically trying to oppress and silence fellow Asian Australians who call out why his book does not help the cause of eradicating racism. Here is Hamilton publicly accusing me of being a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece:

Tweet link: https://twitter.com/CliveCHamilton/status/974815072420704256

Hamilton wrote an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald recently claiming victimhood against Dr Tim Soutphommasane as well, here is an excerpt of what he said:

In this light, Soutphommasane’s knee-jerk accusation that my book “smacks of the Yellow Peril revisited” is offensive to all of those whose views and professional judgments are reflected in the book.

His smearing of the book (the most cynical exercise in cherry-picking I have ever seen) aimed to poison the minds of his readers without engaging with the book’s arguments or the 100,000 words of accumulated fact.

Tweet source: https://twitter.com/CliveCHamilton/status/975482765532569600

In addition he has written a letter to NSW Greens representative David Shoebridge MLC expressing his disappointment in Shoebridge pulling out of hosting the launch of his book at NSW Parliament House a week before it was scheduled to happen. Shoebridge showed a lot of integrity in pulling out after I made a Facebook post expressing my concerns about racism and sinophobia and that this is not something I would ever expect the Greens to support. Both Asian and non Asian Australians who are members of the Greens alerted Shoebridge who listened to this feedback and confirmed the launch will no longer proceed for March 14. Unfortunately, His Parliamentary colleague Justin Field MLC decided to pick this up and host the launch with the support of former Greens leader Christine Milne. Here is the letter which Hamilton sent to Shoebridge.

It is sad that the debate on foreign influence has become one which has divided the Australian community. One must remember not to conflate hating a regime with being racist towards Chinese people and more specifically Chinese Australians. We know that unfortunately many people in the mainstream will conflate the two, and with an extremely biased book like “Silent Invasion”, there is no end to the racism and sinophobia that the Chinese in Australia will face. Hamilton needs to stand up and address these concerns, but for now in my eyes and in the eyes of many Asian Australians he is just tone deaf.

Why China NOT Being Democratic Is Not A Bad Thing, And Why Being Anti-China Impacts Negatively On Race Relations In Australia

You may be wondering why I am writing about this topic, considering how contentious and controversial this topic/question is. But I think it needs to be discussed because there seems to be people who have some weird preconceived notions about China and how it is so “non-democratic” and how this is somehow bad. I mean, we know that China does not employ a “democratic” system of Government, but its people are far from oppressed. Chinese netizens are now more than ever extremely vocal about issues to do with politics – both domestically and globally. Social media platforms such as WeChat, QQ and WeiBo are just as or are even busier than Twitter and Facebook, and the Chinese are becoming a lot more economically secure which shines a positive light on how the Government has conducted itself.

Now, this is not saying that China is perfect – hell no – it is far from perfect in terms of how it conducts itself diplomatically as well as its human rights record. However, this has nothing to do whether it is a democracy or not, it is actually on the contrary. Look at the human rights record in the West and Europe – democracy has not created any improvements. China has prospered despite its one system/party governance – so really why change? I mean there is no reason for China to change its current system of governance.

 

China’s political system has slowly transformed stage by stage from a Mao ruled Communist regime, to a socialist sphere during Deng Xiaoping’s time to now a cross between socialism with glimpses of capitalism. It is because of this slow transformation which has allowed China to grow both economically and politically. Yes, we know there is still a huge gap between rich and poor, but really where in the world, is there no gaps? Politically, China is asserting its dominance in Asia and the world and it has done so because it feels that this is its entitled position, good or bad. However, I will critique that its methods of diplomacy needs to change in terms of how it deals with situations in Asia – such as North Korea, the South China Sea debate, Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan. I mean China still holds the thinking of “divide and conquer”, where it needs to more so, adopt a discuss and compromise approach. Eventually it will move in that direction, with generational changes and the global outlook of its future leaders.

The interesting part of this is, this economic prosperity and global influence has allowed many Mainland Chinese the opportunities to be more mobile, in terms of setting up businesses, making investments and going overseas to establish their bases in both studying, living and working. However, it seems that the Western society has not exactly accepted/embraced the Mainland Chinese – well that is the court of public opinion. So for the purposes of this article, let’s use Australia as the example, considering the mainstream populace view is that Australia is being “invaded by the Chinese”. Many people in Australia still view China as a “communist” nation where its people have no freedoms and are all oppressed and somewhat backward. As I have already demonstrated earlier, this is not actually true. The Aussies who believe this rhetoric are believing in delusions of democracy. Remember, democracy isn’t perfect just look at the inequalities in Australia in terms of race relations, asylum seekers and treatment of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They are also being brainwashed by what the Government, other political parties and mainstream news and media says in terms of how the rise of Mainland China should be viewed. Of course we in Australia do not want too much foreign investment, and of course we want to keep our jobs domestically, but if you as a nation plan to demonise and promote hateful rhetoric towards Mainland Chinese investments, please also gloss your eyes and ears over the investments made by the US, Canada, NZ and other nations in the West and Europe.

Look at how the entire political donations fiasco blew up in Australia, with the media hounding on politicians who accepted major donations from huge Mainland Chinese companies, and how this led to the suspicions over the role that Chinese international students play in terms of “spying” for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and all other rumours about double agents, monitoring devices and calls for Chinese investment to not be accepted in Australia. Many of these rumours and claims have some truth to it, but most if not all are exaggerated in terms of its magnitude. I can safely say, the Chinese international student rumours are untrue and believe it or not China is not the largest investor in Australian property and natural resources.

The other issue is that there are Chinese and Asians in Australia (many who come from different parts of the Asian regions) who hold certain geo political views which are negative towards Mainland China. Their negative views should be directed at the Chinese Government and really that is their prerogative to do so. However, instead of just aiming their negative thoughts towards the Government, their hate is aimed towards China as a whole and this includes Chinese people. This is where the negative impacts occur and the environment of hate just festers. Their negative thoughts are then used as a validation mechanism by the Australian mainstream society to feel that being anti-China and throwing out racist statements towards anyone who looks Chinese is normal and acceptable, because they are also negatively looked at by their own.

Now I am not of Mainland Chinese origins – I am Australian born Malaysian Chinese, so before anyone labels me a Chinese spy, please read what my own personal perspectives are and where my opinions derive from. I think as a final point, the way to move forward and ensure that we maintain Australia as an inclusive society with the Mainland Chinese (whether they come as investors, workers, residents and students) is to engage, engage, and engage! There are many who come as international students or as holiday visa workers and they even feel ostracised/isolated from the Australian mainstream society. The mainstream Australian media has many to believe that these international students come to study in Australia, either as “princelings” (arrogant/spoilt kids from ultra-rich Chinese families) or as spies. And where a small percentage probably are from this situation, there are many who are not with the vast majority coming from upper middle/class families or in the case of holiday visa workers most likely middle class. Many of these younger generations have no personal experiences with Mao and the Cultural Revolution, and they come to study abroad, not just for education reasons, but to also understand how Australia’s political and civic system works.

EXCLUSIVE: Chatting to Tshung Chang and why he ran as a ONE NATION candidate in WA

On a recent trip to Perth in March this year I had the opportunity to have lunch with Tshung Chang. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, Chang ran as the ONE NATION candidate for the seat of Riverton at the last Western Australia (WA) State Election. The other interesting thing is that Chang is of Malaysian Chinese heritage – well his father is Malaysian Chinese and his mother is of anglo background. All the same, Chang is every bit of an Asian Australian as I am and Chang can speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese in addition to English. Having spent a decade or so working in banking in Southeast Asia, he has a deep understanding of Asian culture and the nature of doing business there. Now all this may not be overly impressive, because many Aussies go to Asia to work and live, but what will interest you, is his motivations on running as a ONE NATION candidate. Why did Chang run for a party which around 20 years ago had a strong position against allowing Asian migration.

In addition, we can’t forget the infamous speech Pauline Hanson made in 1996 where she said, and I quote:

“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians,” 

“They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.”

So… Chang being of Asian descent, running for ONE NATION – why and how did this happen? That is a question he will answer in the interview I had with him. However, Chang isn’t the first Asian Australian to run for this nationalistic right-wing populist party which has really spewed more hateful rhetoric than I can count with my own fingers. Remember Shan Ju Lin? The Taiwanese Australian who was initially endorsed as a ONE NATION candidate for the upcoming Queensland State Election late last year, and later dis-endorsed with her homophobic Facebook posts?  And is this a trend that we are seeing? Settled and established Asian Australians who somewhat feel the need to assimilate ( such a horrible term ) because they believe in the model minority myth? Chang seems to think so, and he said that his public profile as a passionate ONE NATION member is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the diversity of membership.

This in many ways scares me, but it then leads to the bigger question whether the major political parties and the bigger minor parties such as the Greens are representative of the diversity in Australia? The last time I checked having 1 or 2 people who are not of anglo or European background is not being representative. So in essence are these parties pushing Asian Australians and Australians of colour away? I will leave this question for you to reflect on and end on this this before I get onto the interview. The Liberal incumbent for Riverton retained his seat at the WA State Election with just over 10,000 first preference votes, and Chang got over 1,000 first preference votes – this is around 4.9% of the vote which is not small in terms being a first time candidate. Anyways, I will end here with my ramblings and allow you to read the interview I had with Tshung Chang.

Tshung, it was only around 21 years ago, that Pauline made her first ever maiden speech as a Senator. In this speech she went on an anti-Asian immigration rhetoric. In 2016, Pauline went on an anti-Muslim immigration rhetoric in her speech. This shows that ONE NATION has a racist and bigoted agenda and this is why they get media populism. How do you as an Asian Australian get around this psychologically?

Well, you just need to see who are the members of ONE NATION today and its policies. It is the broadest church of any party in terms of age and gender. Even the leader Pauline is female. I am pretty sure in 4 years time there will be more members of ONE NATION who are Chinese, Indian and even Muslim Australian background. I don’t agree that people’s views can’t change, Pauline has come a long way in how she sees things. I do think that some of the issues and the rhetoric around Pauline is in the articulation. If she couched some of the things she says in a different way she may be PM now.

ONE NATION will be around for a very long time and the issue of why it has such a reputation is due to political correctness gone mad. During the 1970s and 1980s you would call a spade a spade, nowadays people are too scared to talk about Muslims or else they will be called and labeled a “RACIST”. This is why people are harbouring resentment. I also want to add that people are worried about Islam because ( and these are based on things I have been told whilst door knocking) is that school kids are told (if they are Muslim) a boy and girl can’t shake hands in public schools. No one is strong enough to say these are kids, let them be kids. 

Image sourced from One Nation website

In your interviews during the election campaign you mention the term ASSIMILATION. Now this term has an extremely horrible history and was used as an attempt to wipe out our First Nations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) communities back in the day. It really has bad racial overtones. Why should we who are people of colour need to assimilate to white anglo celtic/Christian culture?

Not at all. It really depends on how you define it. There is nothing wrong with saying everyone who comes to Australia needs to learn or know how to speak in English. It is the best way to get a job and do well in life in all honesty. I always encourage people to learn as many languages as they can, but ensure they know English. So to “ASSIMILATION” – I spoke earlier about learning and mastering English, well my view of “ASSIMILATION” is just that and it is also about accepting everyone, respecting the laws in Australia and not bringing in your own laws. As for me, I have managed to earn respect because I worked hard – we all did that no matter whether you came to Australia as a 10 pound Pomme, or whether you came later from Greece etc – everyone worked hard. The core value of being an Anglo-Celtic is about working hard and saving and I think this is a good value to have. 

Image sourced via SBS News

ONE NATION has worked with groups whose primary focus is about being anti-China anything and everything. I understand and support the efforts to make it more difficult for foreign ownership as a whole, because it is important to ensure things are owned and operated locally rather than internationally. But it seems that this debate has devolved into xenophobia with the general perception that the “Chinese” are buying up everything in Australia. This is the platform your former party member Queensland candidate Shan Ju Lin ran on – she was very anti-China. How do you feel about all this?

To be honest, I have not sensed any anti-Chinese feeling in WA. I think another way of looking at is that this feeling is all dependent on the different waves of Chinese migration to Australia. We have the wave who came during the Tiananmen Square Massacre days as students as well as some of those who came only 20 years ago – most of these migrants didn’t come with a lot of money. You also have those who came during the Gold Rush period as well as from other Asian countries. But what Australians are seeing in the last 5 – 10 years are the affluent Chinese and this sadly does cause resentment from the mainstream Australian society of all colours as well as with other Chinese diaspora groups.  

I have been thinking about this and with regards to the foreign ownership debate whether you are an American, Canadian, British, New Zealander or a Chinese company, there has to be standards in terms of transparency. If the Chinese company fulfils this, then there shouldn’t be any issues. I have taken this to the party room, with regards to transparency in terms of Chinese companies/investment. 

In terms of myself personally, I practice what I preach and even for my own campaign in Riverton I didn’t take any money from fundraising or from any Chinese or any other company. I have used all my own resources for the entire campaign. If foreign nationals think they can buy influence in Australia, then this really needs to be looked at closely with a fine tooth comb. Just look at both the Liberal Party and the ALP and all the issues they have with being bought. This buying does influence parties to take certain sides with regards to geopolitics – and this is not just reserved for Asia but also other parts of the world such as the Middle East etc. 

Why Are There Asian Australians Running As One Nation Candidates?

One Nation has endorsed a candidate in Western Australia who is from an Asian Australian background for the state’s upcoming election next month. You would think that after the Shan Ju Lin debacle, that would be the end of any candidates of an Asian heritage publicly running and supporting this political party, so please do not shoot the messenger when I say that this befuddles me. Asides from geo political stances and positions, there is no rational reason for any Asian Australian to run for a party which is shaded with strong undertones of racism and bigotry. Even the geo-political reasons are not an adequate excuse for being loud and proud One Nationers. Tshung Chang feels that One Nation and its leader Pauline Hanson have moved on from its 1996 anti-Asian platform rhetoric and is on the path of being “inclusive”. Chang who is contesting the WA Treasurer Mike Nahan’s seat of Riverton told the ABC in January that Pauline Hanson and her party have come a long way:

“Yes I do, I think that was the infamous speech, however that was I think 20, as you rightly said, 25 years ago and I think she’s actually become more and more experienced since then and the views back then are not reflective of what they are today because of her life experiences.”

“Pauline has got nothing against Asians, nothing against Asians that work hard, that come here and are good citizens.”

Image Via ABC News Online

There is not a lot online about Chang’s background, so I did some digging and found that he has his own international consultancy business and has a corporate career that spans twenty three years with leading financial services providers including NAB, QBE and Fitch Ratings. His passion is education (according to his political campaign page on Facebook) and his primary concerns and issues which he is standing firm on appear to be about finance and the economy. He states on his Facebook political campaign page:

“Everyone I talk to is worried about the financial mess that we are in and how the government squandered the boom with state debt out of control. West Australians rightly feel they have been ripped off for years, with only 30% of GST being returned to the state. The government has proved time and again it is incapable of doing anything about this.”

“PHON is the only chance I see to make a real difference, and I am incredibly proud to be given an opportunity to stand as a candidate against Dr. Nahan who was at the helm when WA lost its AAA credit rating and presided over the worst performing economy in the nation.”

“My international ratings agency experience gave me insights into restoring the states ratings and finances.”

So the question is why PHON? Why not join the LNP or the ALP or even run as an independent? Understandably, his frustrations are targeted at the Colin Barnett Liberal Government, but I don’t see how standing as a PHON candidate will allow him to impact on change? Considering there may be a PHON and WA Liberals preference deal, there is desperation on all sides to win the election in March. But moving away from the political games there is still no rational justification for Chang to run as a PHON candidate. So let’s analyse and assess Chang’s statements, because on the surface they appear to just be a typical assimilast approach and sounds pretty similar (but possibly a little more articulate) than Lin’s words. His statements about why he supports PHON are extremely problematic in that, he is willing to forgive and forget racism within the party which he plans to represent. Racist people don’t change their stripes, and this resentment within PHON is ingrained in the values and the agendas the political party runs on.  His second point stating “…nothing against Asians that work hard, that come here and are good citizens.”… is extremely ignorant because why do Asian Australians need to work hard to be recognised in Australia? Are Asians the lower class of Australians which need to show hard work to earn their keep in Australia? Chang’s words as stated earlier are just a more articulate and smarter way of saying “Good Asians will like me and Pauline Hanson” ( Lin’s words).

 A growing fear is that there are a growing number of Asian Australians who will vote for PHON. To see two Australians of Asian descent (with one who was dumped) running as candidates is quite telling of the ignorance within the community. We can laugh, make jokes and call them race traitors etc, but the issue is a lot more serious than the usual banter. So the question is why? Why do some Asian Australians feel proud to support PHON, knowing that it is built on racism and fear? Well if you think about it, it still goes back to geo-politics and the misconception of what it means to be a patriotic “Australian”. Many feel to run with the mainstream fear mongering is a show of patriotism, without an understanding of the history of Australian racism and oppression. Groups such as PHON and other “alt right” white supremacist type groups have publicly come out as “anti China” and this has earned the support of various Asian Australian diaspora groups whose roots are from Asian countries where China is seen as a “bully” of sorts. Many are unaware and ignorant that being anti a regime/Government does not give you a free pass to be anti an entire nation of people and they forget that this is essentially racism. In addition, in certain parts of Asia there is animosity towards Muslim Asians, and this is really as stated earlier all about geo-politics and the politics of blaming a group of people for the problems of a country. For many Asian migrants who have moved to Australia and who left countries which are dominated by Muslim Asians their anger is due to misunderstandings and how countries have misused religion for politics. The final reason which this piece will end on is that there are Asian Australians who are believe in the mainstream stereotypes of pure ignorance and lack an understanding of the intersectionality of race relations and its history in Australia.

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