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How important are Chinese Australian votes to the major political parties?

Why both Labor and Liberals fail to understand how to engage with Chinese Australian voters

During the final week before the NSW State Election, NSW Labor was pretty much red-faced when a video emerged of Michael Daley speaking at a “politics in the pub” event back in 2018. In this video, he made racist and offensive statements about Australian jobs being taken away by foreign workers, by singling out “Asians/Chinese who have PhDs”.

“Our young children will flee and who are they being replaced with? They are being replaced by young people from typically Asia with PhDs,”

“It’s not a bad thing because Asian kids are coming to work here, it’s a bad thing because I’d like my daughter to be living in Maroubra rather than St Kilda,”

Reading these words in isolation, you would not expect it coming out of the mouth of a Labor Party leader. Really, it is more like words, which come out of a far-right extremist or One Nation playbook. Granted, Daley did apologise for these comments, reiterated that he is not “racist”, and stated that he was referring to the housing affordability issue in Australia.

How much did Michael Daley’s comments influence the NSW State Election?

The question is how much impact did Daley’s comments make? Did it cost Labor the NSW State Election? Before I answer this question, let us look at some of the key seats where the Chinese Australian vote was important:

  • In the seat of Kogarah, Labor’s Chris Minns who was running for re-election almost lost his seat to Scott Yung, a moderate Liberal candidate, who scored a 5.2% swing towards the Liberals;
  • In the seat of Oatley, Liberal’s Mark Coure was re-elected with a 4.3% swing towards the Liberals.
  • In the seat of Strathfield, Labor’s Jodi McKay was re-elected and even scored a swing of 2.9% towards Labor;
  • In the seat of Ryde, Liberal’s Victor Dominello was re-elected, but it was Labor which scored a 2.9% swing;
  • In the seat of Rockdale, Labor’s Steve Kemper was re-elected, and scored a 4.8% swing towards Labor;
  • In the seat of Parramatta, Liberal’s Geoff Lee was re-elected, but it was Labor who scored a 1.1% swing.

From the results, it is clear that yes, Daley’s comments may have affected slightly on the votes, but it is wrong to assume that this was the only factor. Chinese Australian voters are no longer naïve, nor oblivious in understanding what motivates them to vote the way they do, and we are seeing different voting habits coming out of Chinese Australians. Asides from Kogarah and Oatley, which may have experienced a slight impact from these comments, the other seats where there is a concentration of Chinese Australian voters saw swings towards Labor, rather than the LNP, Greens, minor parties and independents. Chinese Australians are no longer just ignorant voters who will place their votes based on stereotyped issues, but they are now more politically active and are demanding action from their representatives when deciding who they will vote for.

Have Australian major political parties (Federally) faired in engaging with Chinese Australians?

The Chinese Australian vote has definitely evolved, but, what has not evolved and is going backwards, is how Australian political parties – namely the Liberal Party and the Labor Party have failed to engage with the community as equals. For the most part, Chinese Australian voices are invisible when the major policies are announced and this is because Australian political parties do not see Chinese Australian voters as an equal partner in their major policy announcements. Nor do they see Chinese Australians as viable candidates for safe and winnable seats. They also make the mistake of perceiving Chinese Australian voters as one monolithic community who can be convinced of who to vote for just by appearing on WeChat – a Chinese social media platform.

For example, Bill Shorten recently did a video appearance on WeChat, stating that if the Liberal Government is re-elected they plan to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow freedom for hate speech. In this video, he was joined by Jennifer Yang (Taiwanese Australian candidate for Chisholm) to urge Chinese Australian voters to put One Nation last on the ballot paper on Election Day. What this shows is that there is this perception that Chinese Australian voters are basic and will be easily swayed by issues around racism, and hate speech. There is generally no mention of other broader issues and policies because Chinese Australians are not seen as equals to “regular Australians”, inadvertently perpetuating the racial stereotype of a perpetual foreigner.

In backing this argument up, Chinese Australian writer and commentator, Jieh- Yung Lo discussed this issue around Shorten’s appearance on WeChat in a recent opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled: Chinese-Australians have had a gutful of politicians’ tokenism:

“When it comes to engaging multicultural voters, Shorten has made the same mistake that most of our politicians make – seizing on multiculturalism and migration as if these are the only issues we “ethnics” and “migrants” care about. Shorten’s WeChat moment is political tokenism at best, a horrible insult to Chinese-Australian voters at worst.

It demonstrates the “us and them” mentality is alive and well in Australian politics.”

Australian Labor will not win votes from the Chinese Australian community by just selling the points about One Nation, hate speech and Section 18C. They need to learn that what concerns the community are the everyday issues impacting on ALL Australians, and in order to sell this message and to engage the community’s concerns they need to look at elevating the voices and opinions of Chinese Australian voters within the party machine, as well as look at how they can go beyond tokenising and stereotyping the community. In the same vein, Scott Morrison and the Liberal Government are just as oblivious and ignorant as Shorten and Labor are.

Like Shorten, Morrison has also been busy on WeChat spouting similar rhetoric in the hopes that this will win over Chinese Australian voters. What would be much more conducive would be to analyse all the electorates, reach out to the community at a grassroots level, discuss how all policies concern Chinese Australians, instead of assuming what the community is concerned about.

In addition, an analysis of the electorates needs to be conducted in order for the political parties to ensure that they run candidates who culturally understand the community’s needs and who would adequately represent their interests. Currently, this is not happening on a nationwide scale and there are a host of electorates where the candidates are not representative of the population of Chinese/Asian Australian voters.

As a Sydney sider, I can easily think of a few electorates where both political parties are running candidates who culturally do not represent the population of the area. Two of the major Sydney electorates, which require this analysis and re-thinking of appropriate candidates, would be the electorate of Reid and the electorate of Bennelong.

Australian political parties need to start to sharpen up their perceptions about Chinese Australian voters and move away from the idea that Chinese Australians all think the same. As a Chinese Australian, I want to see greater representation within all political party ranks, I want to see Chinese Australians who have worked within the community at a grassroots level be run as viable candidates in safe and winnable seats.

From state politics to federal politics, significant changes need to be undertaken if parties and their leaders want to win Chinese Australian votes. If anything, going back to Daley’s comments what it shows is that Australian political parties are not even at this level of understanding, and that they are still struggling to understand that their words and actions are samples of their unconscious bias, casual racism and lack of cultural competency and insensitivity.

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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.

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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.

Taiwanese Australian Shan Ju Lin joins One Nation as a candidate, and her reasons are completely flawed

I have read all the media surrounding the candidacy of Taiwanese Australian Shan Ju Lin with One Nation. Her reasons for defending Pauline Hanson and standing strong with a bigoted political party is a sign of her ignorance and lack of understanding on the intersections of race relations in Australia. Where many people will laugh and dismiss her as a joke, her candidacy presents many implications in how Australia views racism, bigotry and cultural diversity.

Shan will be standing as a candidate for Queensland in 2018, and just a quick check up on her social media already indicates how problematic her public displays of affection for Pauline Hanson actually is. Just a little bit of background, Shan is of Taiwanese descent and has made Australia home for 26 years. A woman who is passionate about politics, and in particular Asian geo-politics, Shan has spouted and fear mongered about how the rise of China will be to the detriment of Australia and to the rest of the western world. Shan is also an active participant within the Falun Gong movement, a group which promotes meditation and peace, but really is a front to blame and shame China for the ills of the world. And where I am not condemning Shan for her views because she has every right to hold them, I do believe her methods of promoting her views is wrong and she has managed to blur the lines between what it means to be anti-Chinese Government and what is seen as China bashing and promoting racism and hate. In addition, Shan is also anti-LGBTIQ and pretty much has dribbled extremely problematic views which works against the cause of promoting a harmonious and diverse Australian society.

Her five minutes of fame really came to light when she made a statement saying “good Asians” will vote for her and One Nation. This statement as simple as it sounds is extremely ignorant and divisive. The fact that she is attempting to create a wedge within the Asian Australian community is a huge problem, and One Nation knows that and is manipulating Shan for their own ambitions and agendas. Having Shan on their side will validate that One Nation is not against Asians, and that the racism and hate which they stand for should also resonate with Asian Australian voters. This is an extremely sad state of affairs, and Shan has played into this plot. Other statements which Shan has made to the media to validate her reasons for standing as a One Nation candidate are flawed and hold no substance in terms of being reputable reasons:

For European people it’s very difficult to distinguish Chinese or Korean or Japanese, and I can understand why she said it. She sees the problem ahead of everybody, including you and me. Everything she said is happening now.”

So this is problematic in that it has reinforced racial stereotyping, which in itself is racist. Asian Australians have fought for equality for decades and this statement only pushes this work backwards. Shan again demonstrates that she has no understanding about the intersectionality of race relations in Australia and clearly has no inkling about the history of racism in Australia. She has also now given the green light for racists and ignorant Australians to generalise all Asians as the same. She also has endorsed the famous maiden speech Pauline Hanson made back in 1996 (see video below), when she just got elected into the Australian Parliament, that “Australia is being swamped by Asians”. If Pauline got her way back then, Asian Australians such as Shan would be isolated, targeted and cleared out, so the question is whether Shan is just ignorant or whether she is a combination of ignorance and opportunism.

“I feel the Chinese Communist Party is a great threat to Australia because they bought a lot of businesses and our harbours and properties. They will take over power of Australia. They will form their own government” (ABC online).

This statement is all wrong and again demonstrates the failure of Shan to understand what is being against a Government and what is being racist. The other fact which Shan has omitted is that the Chinese are not the biggest investors in Australia. In actual fact the US, UK and Canada beats China in terms of the amount of foreign investment in Australia. So why does she not go after them? The other statements that the Chinese Government will take power in Australia and will form their own Government is the dribble of a woman who has been over consumed by her hatred of the Chinese Government that she is now spewing the same racist words which come out of racist Australians and the mainstream media.

“There are two groups of Asians … the good Asians will be like me. The other group will be supporting CCP, and those people who support CCP are selfish people” (ABC online).

Again, Shan has contradicted herself in her own statement and has an extremely narrow view of defining what it means to be Asian in Australia. The statement should be that no Asians will like her, unless they are the ones who support the same anti-Chinese Government dribble like she does. The majority of Asian Australians do not even think about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), nor do they support them. And even those who do support the CCP, it is unfair to label them as “selfish”. Shan has failed to discern the difference between supporting racist rhetoric and being opposed to a political ideology. This statement is extremely damaging to the cultural diversity and social cohesion of Australian society.

Finally, Shan is truly an embellishment to the Asian Australian brand. She does not represent any sectors of the community and she does not represent me. Shan is not stupid, she is calculating and has joined One Nation for her own selfish reasons, due to her opposition to a political ideology. She is an opportunist and has used the media storm surrounding her to peddle the China bashing rhetoric. Of course Pauline Hanson and One Nation can capitalise on this, and behind her back are probably showing her disrespect. But Shan is blind to this and will refuse to see it as it is: One Nation is nothing more than a racist and bigoted political party and is no different from the white supremacist/nationalist cavalry.


Erin Chew is Convener of the Asian Australian Alliance, and Asian Australian Alliance Women’s Forum.


George Takei makes an impassioned call for Mexican Americans to stop Trump

Outspoken, witty and influential. Three words that can only describe a hero of all sorts, George Takei. But even though it has been forty four years since Takei played the beloved Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, his fame has surpassed him. No longer is he only admired by a global movement of “Trekkies”, but he has also etched his name in history as an activist for social issues — more specifically, his views as a gay Asian man and LGBTQI rights, and the whitewashing of Asian Americans in Hollywood.

Since joining Facebook in 2011, Takei has amassed a following exceeding 9.7 million, with posts ranging from jokes, self-help advice, idiosyncrasies, social issues and politics. But in the last few days it has been the politics which has caught the eye of media outlets all over.

Now, when Takei says “jump”, everyone jumps, the mainstream media in the US and around the world hang on his every word. As soon as he makes a remark on his Facebook on a political or social issue, within hours there will be a feature article featuring Takei’s words of wisdom.



So it should not come as a surprise, that when Takei tackles the more controversial issues, such as warn Americans about Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump and his divisive views, people stop and listen. In this case, he delivers a passionate call to action all in Spanish.

Many don’t know that I speak and understand Spanish, he writes in his post.

In fact, I grew up with many Mexican American neighbors in LA. This message, regarding my own personal experience with racial demonization, is addressed in Spanish to my Latino fans and their families and friends. I hope I did the language justice.



In the video, Takei talks about the racism and discrimination he experienced as a young boy, referencing the experience of Japanese Americans being seen as the people who bombed Pearl Harbour during World War Two. Like many Japanese Americans at the time, his family were ordered to leave their home and placed in internment camps, even though they were Americans. Takei reflects on the vivid memories of his time at an internment camp in 1942 where one hundred and twenty thousand Japanese Americans were held captive, fenced off by barbed wire and isolated from the rest of humanity.



He draws parallels of these painful memories to how Mexicans are being dehumanised by Trump and his supporters as drug smugglers and rapists, and that if elected this could happen again multiplied by ten. The biggest concern Takei raises in his video is that Trump has not explained “how this will happen, or how they will determine who can stay and who must go” without any discernment that the majority of Mexicans are Americans, but spread a one dimensional view that a “Mexican is a Mexican”.



Takei makes an impassioned call to action, that Mexican Americans have the power to stop Trump, with the huge voting block they hold. Many Mexican Americans reside in the “swing states” of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, and their votes could put states like Arizona and Texas in contention just by the sheer numbers in population. He pleads to all Mexican Americans to register to vote and not allow “history to repeat itself”.



And if you think the video has fallen on deaf ears, think again. Since the video was posted on Wednesday it has had over four million views, with people responding strongly on social media.



Takei is a legend and one with a very strong voice. Keep preaching, O Great One!


This article was originally published on This Asian Woman Says.

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The Chinese political donations blow up

Well the dragon is out of the bag. The Chinese political donations scandal has taken front and centre stage in Australia, with politicians now dotting their “I’s” and crossing their “T’s”, distancing themselves from being implicated. To avoid the jury by media and the court of public opinion, they are advised to deny, deny, deny.

But the question is, how long has this been going on for, and why it has only been now that the Government is jumping up and down about it? The fact that it implicates Chinese companies and business people makes this saga all the more inflated, triggering prejudicial feelings among regular Australians and presumably the fear of a Chinese economic invasion. To those active in the Chinese community in Australia, political donations is nothing new, in actual fact, it is the norm, meaning that this is how the “Chinese” do business. This is not saying that political donations is right and ethical, but it is more so to point out that Chinese businesses do things differently than “western” businesses.

Chinese Australians are also relatively cautious when it comes to standing up and being overtly politically active. To mainstream Australia, the perception is Chinese Australians are hardworking, excel academically and in essence live the model minority life. To an extent this is not wrong. The earlier Chinese in Australia are taught to study hard and not make a big deal in the public sphere. Hence, many Chinese who were born and raised in Australia tend to shy away from schoolyard skirmishes and not to confront but negotiate and be diplomatic. And in some cases to give in, because asides from becoming a target nothing more will be achieved. It is also this perception and mindset that has worked against the Chinese in Australia, placing them in the situation they are in today. Anything which mentions the words “Chinese investment” and bidding for farmland, natural resources, electricity and purchasing mines will turn heads and cause unconscious and conscious xenophobia.

What is most interesting is that Chinese political donations to political parties, is not new news – well that is not to the Chinese Australian community. In China, the controversy surrounding Sam Dastyari wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. Corporate political donations for current/future business/publicity favours is how business is done there, and paying a legal/travel bill for a politician is part and parcel of a business/political relationship. The Chinese way of business and influence speak to the way Australia does it are on completely different sides of the cube. Where this style of doing business is frowned upon in Australia, it is acceptable within certain sections of the Chinese community. This is not saying the Chinese political donations saga is right or wrong, but it is just to make a point which has not been relayed adequately in the mainstream media.

So let’s talk about what has transpired and how did Sam Dastyari get mixed up in all this. But to understand how this all blew up, is to have some knowledge on the background to Chinese political donations in Australia. For those who take an active interest in Australian politics know that both Labor and Liberal Parties have Chinese fundraising groups, using the names of “Chinese Friends Of…” and/or “Chinese Association For…” and a number of similar style group names. Their sole purpose is to hold fundraising events and garnering support for the respective political parties, and having these groups are a way to channel Chinese political donations. The man of the minute, Huang Xiangmo and his company Yuhu Group, attends these fundraising events (on both sides of politics), as well as other Chinese and Chinese Australian business people, and this is one way where donors are able to discreetly make a donation. At these events many politicians from the respective political party are in attendance – their way of guaranteeing that they are in the good books with the Chinese Australian community – you know, taking photos, shaking hands and looking pleasant. Both Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and other senior MPs would make concerted efforts to speak and be present at these events. The more senior the MP that attends, the better chances of receiving better donations and fundraising outcomes.

Sam Dastyari was merely a scapegoat, collateral for the media to pounce and jump on. His crime in the court of public opinion was having asked and received a payment of $1,670 from the Top Education Institute, run by the businessman Minshen Zhu for travel costs. Sam declared this money. Following rules, and in the name of transparency, this declaration became public and Sam moved to pay this money back. One thing led to another, and it was found that before Sam became a Senator, Huang Xiangmo of Yuhu Group, paid $5000 to cover some legal bills. Reason for the legal bill is unknown. The only thing Sam has publicly stated is that it was for a personal matter and that the media trial by jury coordinated by the Government is just a distraction. He is not wrong there, because like Sam, other more senior politicians, such as Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop, George Brandis, former Premier Bob Carr, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have all been photographed with Huang with some politicians, including Sam himself having visited Yuhu headquarters in China.

Former MLC (NSW Upper House) Eric Roozendaal went to Yuhu Group after he resigned from politics, which paved the way for Ernest Wong, former Deputy Mayor of Burwood and friend of both Sam Dastyari (back then General Secretary of NSW ALP) as well as Huang Xiangmo to replace Eric Roozendaal as an MLC (NSW Upper House). Ernest has a strong presence and influence within certain sections of the Chinese Sydney community as well as sections of the Chinese Australian media, so politically, he was the ideal candidate. Sam as the General Secretary of NSW ALP back then justified Ernest’ entrance into NSW Labor as being a Chinese representative in Parliament, and where this is noble and is required, there was no consultation or even consideration of other candidates within the Chinese Australian community who would also be suitable for the position. But remember, Ernest is a known fundraiser and networker for the NSW Labor Party, so he was the more convenient candidate. There is not more to say on the story behind this saga, because it is adequately reported all over Australian media outlets and reports.

Although, one interesting fact which has not been clearly reported in the media, is that there is not a whole lot of backlash from the Chinese Australian community, particularly those who read, listen and watch Chinese Australian media because these media outlets are controlled by the same people who organise and coordinate these political fundraising sub groups. It pretty much operates like Chinese state owned media. The people with the biggest pockets and political influence will be able to dictate what goes in and what gets left out as well as how issues and columns are communicated.

So where to from here? Well I guess we will just have to see how deep the cracks grow and spread, and how much trial by media the Australian public demands. But it makes you wonder, whether the Chinese are being targeted for prejudicial reasons, and what about political donations from British, American, Canadian, New Zealand or other European companies – would these be seen in the same light as Chinese political donations? Remember making anything remotely “Chinese” publicly will always attract the attention of the mainstream and give media reports more crunch. And as for Sam, well he will be fine on the back bench and being young, will have adequate time for soul searching and to make a comeback when things die down. Rest assured politicians who have been associated with Huang, Zhu and other Chinese companies who make big political donations will be quiet and not comment on any media questions and reports. Remember, there is nothing remotely wrong with corporate political donations, it is really about tougher regulations and ensuring greater transparency.

Erin Chew is Convener of the Asian Australian Alliance, and Asian Australian Alliance Women’s Forum.

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Asian Australians need to unite and support the Safe Schools Program

Recently a petition was distributed, signed and tabled on behalf of various Asian community groups in NSW. According to media reports it was coordinated by the Chinese Australian community. The petition was urging the NSW State Government to scrap a program called the “Safe Schools Program”, which aims to support schools who, in community consultation, choose to make their school a safer, more inclusive space for all students. It teaches values that are core to all cultures, like respect and acceptance for all students, including LGBTIQ students.

This is an anti-bullying program that skills teachers to help students to understand what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes, experiencing discrimination. This program teaches techniques to minimise discrimination, improve students’ resilience and learn respect for each other. Currently the Safe Schools Program has been welcomed in over 500 schools all across Australia. The results from teachers, school psychologists and mental health professionals have provided solid evidence that this program produces healthy, positive results for the wellbeing of all students. In many cases, this program has been life-saving, especially in suicide prevention. While continuous, regular reviewing of all school programs is welcomed, no professional research has ever stated that the program be stopped or be defunded.

It’s odd that there are Asian Australian communities so hell bent against this anti-bullying program considering it is our moral imperative to ensure a more just Australia that celebrates differences and promotes a culture of diversity and inclusivity.

The Safe Schools Program is there to support all Australian students no matter what backgrounds they may come from or any other aspects of their identity. Homophobia and transphobia is as damaging as any other prejudicial attacks. When fear of difference is allowed to continue, all forms of phobia flourish, including racism and xenophobia. This is not what the Asian Australian community who has worked so hard to fight against injustice and discrimination wants. Racism, bullying, transphobia, are all based on the same ignorant attitudes and prejudices as each other.

Unchecked racism affects all Australians regardless of background, just as unchecked homophobic bullying affects all Australians. Many Australians have keenly experienced incidences of discrimination based on race. This discrimination shares the same roots of cultural misunderstanding, pressures to conform to institutional violence, ignorance and intolerance. Discrimination in any form leads to poor health outcomes, low productivity and social disenfranchisement.

The scare-campaign petition being tabled in the NSW Parliament in the name of the entire Chinese Australian community is outrageously presumptuous and does not represent the broader Asian community. Recent reports have unfortunately mislabelled the entire Chinese Australian community as being opposed to the Safe Schools Program. This reporting is inaccurate and false propaganda by individuals whose only wish is to incite fear and tear communities apart.

Erin Chew is Convener of the Asian Australian Alliance, and Asian Australian Alliance Women’s Forum.


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