Bishop’s warning to students driven by ideological bias

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/16 23:18:40

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, a famously harsh critic of China, accused the Chinese government over the weekend of monitoring overseas Chinese students and encouraging them to challenge academics in Australia for holding different views from the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Bishop said Australia prides itself on in its "values of openness and upholding freedom of speech" and "they are our laws" for those who come to Australia. She is just one among a slew of Australian officials warning of Chinese interference in the country.

Referring to the Communist Party over and over again, Australia is actually setting ideological boundaries rather than seriously protecting freedom of speech, typical of Cold-War thinking. These people simply disagree with different ideologies and don't want to move a step closer toward understanding others.

There have been a series of controversial cases in Australian universities this year in which Chinese students voiced their opinions. It was reported that Chinese students refused to join in discussions on the CPC. The case was cited by an Australian scholar as evidence of intrusion by the CPC. At the University of Newcastle, a lecturer is reported to have listed Hong Kong and Taiwan - both Chinese territories - as separate countries. But every Chinese person would take the same attitude when engaging in discussions that harm China's sovereignty.

Does "freedom of speech" mean Chinese students in Australia are free to speak up when they disagree with academic behavior? The Australian reaction sounds more like the latest variant of the China threat theory or even an excuse for racial discrimination.

The reality is discrimination against Chinese students is rising in Australia. In May, a Monash University textbook was found to include a quiz question offensive to Chinese students. Posters banning Chinese students from campuses appeared at two Melbourne universities on the first day of the new semester in July, to name but a couple of incidents.

These offenses may be individual cases, but the harsh remarks earlier this month by Bishop and Frances Adamson, head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, suggest the country's growing fear and opposition to China. In fact, Australia is pushing its allies including the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand, to work out a collective strategy to resist Chinese government intrusions into Western universities.

There are about 150,000 Chinese students studying in Australia, or 30 percent of Australia's total international students and a big part of the country's educational income. But if this arrogant country continues to apply the China threat theory, it's probably time for prospective Chinese students to rethink studying in Australia.

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