Sam Dastyari allegedly pushed the Chinese agenda after receiving Chinese political donations.
Then there was the letter sent to the Chinese Australian community trying to influence the Bennelong by-election.
But Beijing’s attempts to influence countries goes beyond Australia.
Like Australia, the US, New Zealand and Germany all receive major direct foreign investments from China. And they aren’t happy about Beijing’s attempts to gain political influence.
In all four countries, investigations have begun. Some have already uncovered China’s attempts to access information from public and private sectors. There are also allegations of Chinese spying on LinkedIn pages and using politics and education to gain the upper hand on their Western counterparts.
Even those attending a Chinese language class could be monitored by the Chinese government. Especially in the US, where ‘Confucius Institutes’ are sponsored by the Chinese government.
As Glenn Tiffert stated at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing:
‘Confucius Institutes are far and away the best known vehicle by which the Chinese government is carving out a space in American education’.
Tiffert continued, saying that in the US, foreign education is monitored by the Chinese:
‘We are routinely targeted by malware, phishing schemes, and fake social media profiles designed to compromise our information security, and our Chinese informants. In many instances, our Chinese colleagues are already under surveillance, and face far more harrowing constraints.’
Back home in Australia, it’s a similar situation.
Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Affairs noted:
‘Chinese security forces have reportedly engaged in a campaign to monitor Chinese nationals, including many students — even warning them not to offer any criticism of Beijing lest their relatives in China be harmed’.
Now, concerns about debates in Australian higher education regarding China has arisen with whether or not ‘…the threat of monitoring students and tactics taken by Chinese officials to scrutinize teaching on China in classrooms has censored debate about China within Australian higher education’.
Behind their Great Wall the Chinese are masters of censorship. But over on this side of that wall we still value freedom of thought. And the freedom to express those thoughts.
We still remember what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989. And we’re free to write about it, discuss it and disagree over it.
Our pollies are to be congratulated for putting Australia’s best interests at the forefront. And for keeping close tabs on who is accepting political donations from foreign interests.