Is a new kind of McCarthyism emerging in Australia?

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/30 23:43:40

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott once admitted that Australia's policies toward China were driven by two emotions: fear and greed. In the present day, fear seems to have taken the upper hand, pushing Canberra into a new McCarthyism.

Senator Sam Dastyari resigned from his deputy whip and committee positions Thursday to minimize the fallout after the senator reportedly tipped off a Chinese businessman, Huang Xiangmo, at a private meeting that his phone was probably being taped by security agencies. Huang was suspected of connections to the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who came under fierce media attack after he was spotted dining with a Chinese donor earlier this month, didn't miss the opportunity to divert public attention and score some points for his disadvantaged ruling party. He lambasted Dastyari and dubbed his behavior a serious national security issue.

Dastyari may actually have fallen victim to Australia's partisan strife. But in this process, an unnerving tendency seems to be shaping up: Canberra seemingly views anyone connected to the CPC as a potential subversive, a typical McCarthyist tactic.

It is often reported that Australia accuses Chinese companies of trying to exert influence on Australian politicians and Beijing of ideologically penetrating Australian universities via Chinese students.

Merriden Varrall, director of the East Asia program at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, warned Thursday that the United Front Work Department of China's CPC Central Committee has been building Communist Party influence in the West to isolate enemies and was stepping up secret operations in Australia.

In the eyes of a fearful Canberra, China has obviously become an evil and terrifying force that places the nation in great peril, regardless of the enormous economic ties between the two sides.

If this mania continues without being reined in, anyone in Australia might be investigated for carrying about a Chinese newspaper. And it will be Australia that eventually suffers.

What's urgent and essential for Australia now is not to suspect China, but to prevent McCarthyism from thriving. Earlier this year, former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that "if Australia listened to our hawks on China, we'd have been hung out to dry."

Hopefully his advice will be heeded by Australian politicians.

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