OPINION / OBSERVER
Military lockdown gambit exposes Canberra's double standards
Published: Aug 01, 2021 08:54 PM
A delivery person crosses the street in the usually bustling shopping district of Parramatta on Wednesday in Sydney, Australia. A lockdown for greater Sydney has been extended by four weeks as the city struggles to contain the COVID-19 Delta variant. Photo: VCG

A delivery person crosses the street in the usually bustling shopping district of Parramatta on Wednesday in Sydney, Australia. A lockdown for greater Sydney has been extended by four weeks as the city struggles to contain the COVID-19 Delta variant. Photo: VCG

Three hundred Australian military personnel will begin on Monday to help local police crackdown on residents who flout stay-at-home restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases, Australian media outlet ABC News reported on Friday.

An outbreak of the hyper transmissible Delta variant of the novel coronavirus continues to grow in Australia. New South Wales broke the record of daily coronavirus cases with 239 new infections reported on Thursday, the highest tally since the pandemic begun, according to Sky News. And news.com.au said that Queensland on Sunday reported the highest increase in infections all year with nine positive cases.

In response to the latest outbreak, Sydney on Wednesday extended its lockdown by another four weeks. But anti-lockdown protests have taken place in Australia against the tight restrictions to address a rise of COVID-19 cases. 

The protesters reportedly marched unmasked in Sydney carrying signs calling for "freedom" and threw bottles at mounted police officers. This will make it more difficult to curb the spread of the virus in Australia.

In Australia, a so-called liberal democracy, some of the public tend to be anti-intellectual. They ignore the common sense of public health, refuse to wear masks and object to taking vaccines. In a bid to effectively handle the pandemic, Australia has to take drastic measures.

Canberra has been critical of China's effective response to control the disease. For example, ABC News in April 2020 published an article, which indicated that the Chinese government's efforts to track some of its citizens through software that analyzes their personal data to identify their health status and level of risk for COVID-19 "alarmed" human rights advocates. 

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in June 2020 that "some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy to promote their own more authoritarian models." An AP News report analyzed she was referencing China and Russia. 

Now, quite ironically, it turns out that Canberra plans to send its military personnel to help enforce social lockdown.

"This is a typical double standard on the side of Australia," Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Centre, East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Judging from the desperate situation in Sydney and the military reinforcement, Australia is aware that the right to life is the most important human rights. To help ensure the effectiveness of the lockdown, Australia's move to send military personnel into Sydney seems draconian among nations," Chen said. 

Now, it is known to all that Australia's incessant unwarranted criticism of China in terms of freedom and human rights is not about human rights at all. Instead, Canberra has exploited it to echo Washington's anti-China policy, Chen said. "For a time, the Morrison administration has made use of every opportunity to smear and demonize China by politicizing issues such as lockdowns, QR code inspection, mass vaccination and other measures adopted in China's battle against the Covid-19 pandemic," he noted. 

Chen said, "Australia has manipulated the definitions of democracy, freedom and human rights as a political weapon to discredit China. The Canberra government has been handling such concepts arbitrarily to serve their ulterior motives. Their goal is crystal clear that is to attack China."

Against this backdrop, no matter what China does, Australian politicians and media outlets will interpret it as a "Chinese conspiracy". Such a bizarre mentality is neither conducive for China-Australia ties nor an effective response to deal with COVID-19.

The rapid spread of the Delta variant is complicating global attempts to stem the spread of the virus, and it is high time for global cooperation. Coordinating the US government's anti-China strategy by badmouthing China will do no good to Australia.
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