Canberra’s McCarthyism reaches new heights in ‘loyalty test’ for Chinese Australians
Published: Oct 16, 2020 07:23 PM

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The fact that a Senate Committee hearing on Wednesday turned into a "loyalty test" for multiple Chinese Australians has truly laid bare the rising McCarthyism in the land Down Under. During the important inquiry - which was actually investigating issues affecting diaspora communities in Australia - three Australian citizens (of Chinese ethnicity) were repeatedly quizzed about whether or not they would condemn the Communist Party of China. 

The Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, better known for his hawkish views on China, asked the three Chinese Australians during the hearing to tell him, "whether they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship," according to Reuters. The episode has caused a storm of outrage with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, among others, calling the incident "repugnant," and saying the Australian government should refrain from using "race-based panic" in its defense of national interest. 

Although he is faced with increasing ire for launching a "race-baiting McCarthyism" campaign, Abetz has refused to make an apology for his line of questioning.  

The outrageous incident unambiguously demonstrates the severity of anti-China sentiment in Australia, and showed how it has spilled out of the media and become a part of the country's political process. The hostility toward China has been blatantly pronounced in Australia's parliament, showing an entrenched hatred of China by some of Australia's highest politicians and policymakers. 

For those politicians, China has now become the target of their hatred and denunciation. They stoke up fear and resentment among their country's population, and then cunningly manipulate the populist sentiment to reinforce their anti-China crusades.

It's now obvious that in order for Australian citizens to demonstrate their loyalty to their country, they must first denounce China. This should not only outrage China, but also Australian citizens in general, especially those with a Chinese background. What it means is that now anyone with Chinese ancestry is seen in the eyes of some Australian politicians as suspicious and of potential or blatant risk to Australia's security. 

Since the 1970s, Australia slowly installed multiculturalism as its national policy, characterizing the country as open, tolerant and embracing of all races, colors and creeds. Its policy suggests a readiness to acknowledge differences and a confidence to allow diversity. It has been this policy that has steered Australia toward political, social and cultural maturity and sophistication. 

However, nowadays, hate-driven parochialism is distracting Australia from its path toward real maturity, independence and confidence. Canberra has shown that it is constantly suspicious of imaginary threats, ceaselessly pointing an accusatory finger at China and the Chinese community in Australia.

Such acts are in every way senseless as race is now cited as appropriate grounds for suspicion. This will ultimately "boomerang" to shoot Australia in its own foot, because it will no doubt spread disquieting seeds of fear and anxiety among Chinese Australians.

Ideological preoccupation is now fixated in Canberra's mentality. McCarthyism is motivating a kind of political cleansing to eradicate affinity or connections with China and the Chinese community. This will ultimately propel Australia's currently deteriorating bilateral relations with China in a spiral further downward.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Yu Jincui based on an interview with Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Centre, East China Normal University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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