Warren Kennedy, Citizen, Mullumbimby
In a Senate Committee hearing on issues facing diaspora communities in Australia, Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, in a racist outburst, demanded that three ethnically-Chinese Australians ‘unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship’. Offended I wrote this open letter to the Senator.
Dear Senator Abetz,
I’m a proud white Anglo-Saxon Australian but I can’t unconditionally condemn the Chinese government.
Over the past few decades they’ve successfully brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Surely a significant achievement. According to the Smith Family around 1.2 million Australian children are living in poverty. WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT THAT?
The Chinese government has also turned their country into the world’s greatest manufacturer. And before you say they did it with ‘stolen’ technology let’s not get into a Trumpesque distortion of the truth. They made transfer of technology a condition of foreign companies setting up in China and the executives of those companies accepted the condition. Nobody forced them to; they chose to. Just as they chose to buy Chinese goods resulting in a trade imbalance for which Trump blames China. Again, nobody forced them; they chose to.
The Chinese government spends huge amounts on infrastructure – mass modernisation of cities and 30,000 km of high-speed rail, for example – for the benefit of the people. You make a lot of promises you don’t keep. Or you rort the distribution process.
They also spend huge amounts on R&D while you cut R&D back.
They take climate change seriously while you are a denier.
Their building [of] bases on islands in the South China Sea is clearly not offensive – it’s defensive against America’s sabre-rattling ‘pivot to Asia’. You support American aggression.
The Chinese government governs for all the people. You put profits before people as can be seen from Prime Minister Morrison’s and Treasurer Frydenberg’s hectoring of Dan Andrews whose priority is clearly saving lives. You would turn Australia into another UK or USA.
Yes, China is a one-party state. Yes, their government exerts dictatorial power over the populace at times (a good thing when it came to suppressing COVID-19) which most of the Chinese people accept because it’s a continuation of Chinese tradition. A continuation of their dynastic culture and which has served them well for improving the lives of the whole nation.
Their rapid development would have been impossible if China was a capitalist democracy because the wealth of the nation would have been directed to the top one per cent, as in the western democracies, and poverty would still be rampant. In America, the wealthiest nation in the world, before COVID-19 almost 40 million people lived in poverty; around 12 per cent of the population. And successive US governments have made little attempt to alleviate it, unlike the Chinese Communist Party which you revile so unconditionally.
Yes, China is trying to influence Australian politicians. As it says on our Department of Home Affairs website ‘All governments, including Australia’s, try to influence discussions on issues of importance’. And yes, influence can become interference, which should be condemned wherever the interference originates. But China is not the only country to interfere.
As Brian Toohey documented in his excellent book, Secret, America interfered to the extent of colluding in the dismissal of the Whitlam government. It also helped swing a Russian election for Boris Yeltsin in 1996, drove a failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, orchestrated a successful one in Haiti in 2004, and another one in Ukraine in 2014, among numerous other interferences.
Why do you single China out for criticism? Surely all interference should be condemned. Is it racism after all?