China slams Australian TV program

By Zhang Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/5 23:48:39

Biased media misleads Australian government, impacts bilateral ties: resident

The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday slammed an Australian TV program that claimed China is "infiltrating" the country, calling it baseless and "not even worth refuting."

A program called Power and Influence: How China's Communist Party is infiltrating Australia is being broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). According to the trailer, the program will demonstrate a five-month-long investigation which shows how Beijing is actively manipulating the Chinese community in Australia, including Chinese students and Chinese-language media, to enlarge its influence in the country and "pose a direct threat to our nation's liberties and its sovereignty."

The episode, which was released on Monday, contains content including a Chinese student's parents being threatened by China's security authorities due to the student's anti-China activities in Australia and a Chinese professor in Sydney being detained by Chinese authorities..

"There is no basis for the related claim, which is extremely irresponsible and isn't worth refuting," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when she was asked to comment on the issue in a regular press conference on Monday.

"China urges related Australian media to abide by professional ethics of journalism, discard ideological bias, and do objective and fair reports on China's development and Sino-Australian ties," Hua said.

"I haven't seen the program, but I'm really surprised to be told that Chinese students are part of the threat to Australian sovereignty," said Charlie Liu, 28, who has been living in Australia for six years and graduated from Monash University.

"Chinese students in Australia don't have many connections with the Chinese authorities, and I've never heard about any Chinese student's parents being threatened by the Chinese government," Liu told the Global Times.

Other overseas Chinese in Australia interviewed by the Global Times said they were not so surprised at the program, but they doubt the factual basis of the cases reported, as none of them have heard about the situations the program depicts.

"Australia advocates freedom of speech, which means you are free to talk to the media. But if there is no evidence to prove a similar situation, there is the possibility that the program is deliberately discrediting China's international image," said Li Yilun, a graduate of the University of New South Wales.

Losing strategic value

The Chinese community in Australia had become the third-largest group of overseas-born residents of the country by 2015, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as the number of first-generation immigrants from China grew in recent years.

Although the Chinese community is still considered a minority in terms of its political influence, the rise of China's status on the international stage gives it a considerable influence in Australia. As a country that upholds mainstream Western values but is far away from the West geographically, Australia is divided when dealing with its relations with China.

"The Australian government wants to boost economic ties with China and encourage Chinese people to invest in the country, but its media tends to exaggerate the negative part of China to attract viewers and promote Western values," Liu said.

As the US' international influence declines, the strategic value of Australia in the Asia-Pacific is also going down, which puts Australia in an awkward situation, said Yu Lei, a research fellow at the Oceania Research Center of Sun Yat-sen University.

Australian politicians' and media criticism of China might also be triggered by pressure from local people, said Mandy Wang, 28, who is currently living in Brisbane, Australia.

"The Australian economy is weak and has a high unemployment rate. So immigrants, of whom the Chinese are a large part, are blamed for the situation," Wang told the Global Times.

The unemployment rate in Australia in May was 5.7 percent, ABC reported.

"This kind of media report will very possibly mislead the Australian government as it develops its relations with China and will impact the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries," Wang said.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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