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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