Aussie fawns over US with TikTok probe

By Xu Keyue Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/3 21:13:40

Canberra's TikTok investigation 'betrays values of inclusiveness, freedom'

Chinese and Australian national flags are seen at an event in Sydney, Australia, September 8, 2019. Photo:Xinhua

Chinese netizens have mocked the Morrison administration for being a yes-man of the US after Australian intelligence agencies, citing security concerns, launched an investigation into TikTok following the heels of the US. 

Observers noted that Australia's move is not only to fawn over the US, but also aims to suppress successful Chinese technology companies and demonize China as a threat. 

According to Australian media, the excuse the country used for the investigation was TikTok may pose a risk to users' privacy or even national security, the same as the US did. But US officials have provided little evidence for their claims about TikTok except pointing to its country of origin.

Australian users reached by the Global Times said they did not realize TikTok was a Chinese company until reports on the US ban of the app proliferated. Extra scrutiny and a potential ban of a life sharing platform are obviously politically driven, which is not healthy for what Australia stands for, a free market.

Chinese netizens mocked the Australian move. "Is Australia a lap dog of the US? Otherwise why has Morrison spared no efforts to please Trump's irrational orders?" a Chinese net user posted on Sina Weibo. 

Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday that Canberra repeatedly claims independence in decision-making in its diplomacy, but from time to time they have to cave in to the Trump administration's pressures. Chen warned that although an ally of the US, Australia's collaboration with it should not be at the expense of its relations with China, Australia's comprehensive strategic partner. 

Chen noted that politicized suppression of Chinese entertainment and social media apps such as TikTok aims to suppress and crush China's development in information technology and communication and to contain its influence. 

This is not the first time that Australia has attempted to restrict Chinese tech firms. Australia has decided to exclude China's Huawei Technologies from the country's 5G network, also following the lead of the US.

Chen said another purpose of these allies' action is to further create a demonized image of China as a threat.

Since 2017, Australia has been supporting and even spearheading the US' anti-China strategy in a raft of instances in the name of national security concerns. However, Chen pointed out that the pretext of national security is entirely incongruous in the persecution of TikTok. 

TikTok is most popular among young people and it has more than 1.5 million downloads in Australia. The government investigation also triggered dissatisfaction among locals. 

An Australian man who gave his name as Paul told the Global Times he watches TikTok clips during long journeys to kill time. "Much of the content is very amusing and I quite enjoy seeing the content people share," he said.

Many Australians did not know TikTok was a Chinese company before Trump decided to ban it. It's obviously being politicized, said Paul, noting such censorship is "almost a betrayal of the values Australian politicians and media often say they endorse."

"Countries claim that they are free but attempt to silence a certain proportion of the population due to not fitting in a certain ideological narrative. It has happened before and it will obviously happen again," he said.

Chinese Australian Du Jiafeng, who lives in Sydney, told the Global Times that many locals enjoy the interesting app which has become more popular considering the home quarantine advisory. 

It is ridiculous that political frictions are affecting every aspect of life, even trivial thing like what you watch after work. Australia has been clanking that they stand for "inclusiveness" and "freedom," but it is doing the opposite, Du said.

Another Chinese app WeChat, which is used by more than 2 million Australians, is reportedly under scrutiny by Australia's Department of Home Affairs.

Chen also said: "In today's Australia which boasts it enjoys freedom of speech, it is beyond reason that McCarthyism is tyrannizing an innocuous app which is popular among teenagers."

Posted in: SOCIETY

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