Who’s overreacting here, Australia or China?

Here it is in lurid colour, from The New Daily:

Nearly 80 per cent of the foreign donations made to Australia’s political parties since the year 2000 were linked to China, a study of electoral commission data has revealed.

As Malcolm Turnbull vows to stand up to Beijing amid growing concerns over foreign interference, an analysis of Australian Electoral Commission data suggests an overwhelming proportion of the millions spent by foreign donors comes from Chinese nationals or entities.

Chinese donors poured just over $12.6 million into the Australian political process between 2000 and 2016, which represented 79.3 per cent of all foreign donations, according to the analysis by the Melbourne Law School Dollars and Democracy Database.

Of the $900,000 donated to political parties in 2015-16, $850,000 – or 94.4 per cent – came from confirmed or likely Chinese nationals or entities, the study by Malcolm Anderson and Joo Cheong Tham found.

The analysis, provided to The New Daily, showed particular spikes in contributions during election years, with Chinese contributors spending $5.1 million in 2013-14, $1.05 million in 2012-13 and $1.6 million in 2006-07. Mr Anderson predicted the 2016-17 data would show a similar spike.

The researchers also found the Labor side of politics was more popular with Chinese donors, with the party receiving about $7.3 million since 2000-01, compared with about $5.4 million for the Coalition.

But since the 2013 election, the Coalition has been showered in donations, getting $1.6 million (23 donations) in 2013-14, $572,000 (seven donations) the following year, and $700,000 (three donations) in 2015-16.

Labor, meanwhile, received $3.5 million (27 donations) in 2013-14, but only $360,000 (three donations) and $150,000 (two donations) in subsequent years.

Yet, via the AFR comes super, uber, sublime China bull Professor James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at University of Technology, founded with money supplied by the notorious Huang Dynasty:

Australia’s foreign policy rhetoric has been tilting against China all year. But it’s hard to recall anything more extreme than Joe Hockey’s latest comments. Canberra’s man in Washington said that China is a threat to what Australians have “fought and died for”.

Last week after new foreign interference laws were introduced, the Chinese embassy in Canberra finally let loose. It claimed that some Australian media had “fabricated news stories” while some politicians and bureaucrats had made “irresponsible remarks”. China’s foreign ministry accused Prime Minster Turnbull himself of “poisoning” the relationship.

Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University opined in The Australian Financial Review that the Chinese government could hardly object given that our laws around national security will remain milder than China’s.

This is fine to a point. But it risks missing something crucial: it is not just the Chinese government that is unhappy with the turn that the bilateral relationship has taken.

This month, James Leibold from La Trobe University, who had previously been one of the most outspoken critics of Australia’s historically pragmatic approach to dealing with China, also called on these pages for an urgent “lowering of the temperature”. This was prompted by a recent visit to China where he and colleague Nick Bisley had encountered emotional and heated reactions not from Chinese officials but rather academics who were known to like and have a soft spot for Australia.

…With China’s economy set to double in size again by 2030, there could be an awful lot of missed opportunities.

Arguably, Mr Laurenceson’s institute should be first on the foreign agents register. It was founded with highly questionable Chinese dough from the same Huang Dynasty that has left a trail of political destruction in his wake, including more revelations about Sam Dastayari today. Huang may have pulled out now but the institute would not exist without it. It should be disbanded.

I’m all for having a great relationship with China. But not at the expense of the Australian democracy. As horribly malformed as it is, it’s the best we’ve got.

Can we really say that our new 11th hour political funding rules and a white paper that notes that we should seek balance in external relations is an over-reaction to an attempt to buy our one expression of political freedom?

Absolute bollocks. Does anyone remember Stern Hu:

The Rio Tinto espionage case began with the arrest on 5 July 2009, of four staff in the Shanghai office of the Rio Tinto Group, in the People’s Republic of China, who were subsequently accused of bribery and espionage. Two days later, an import executive of the Shougang Group and Laigang Group was also arrested. The Rio Tinto employees, Australian Stern Hu and three Chinese colleagues, Wang Yong, Ge Minqiang and Liu Caikui, went on trial in Shanghai on Monday, 22 March 2010.

The government dropped the charges relating to the alleged theft of trade secrets before the trial, and the defendants admitted to having received bribes during the trial.

Following the trial, Stern Hu was sentenced to 10 years jail. Hu and other convicted executives have also had their employment terminated by Rio Tinto Ltd. It is reported that the motive behind the terminations is in regards to a breach of conduct, with Rio Tinto accepting the evidence provided showing instances of bribery. Rio Tinto also states that the trial will not affect business ties, according to its chief executive.

If Australia were doing to China what it is doing to us then the gulags would be brimming over.

More apologists appear at The Australian:

National president and chairman of the Australia China Business Council, John Brumby, told The Australian relations were “very finely balanced”, while former Australian ambassador to Beijing Geoff Raby warned that a sustained period of turbulence could reduce international demand for a university education in Australia — an export sector worth $28 billion a year.

…Mr Brumby — a former Labor premier of Victoria — said the number of Chinese people visiting Australia was expected to increase to 3.3 million by 2026, up from the 1.2 million last year who spent a total of $9.2bn. He also urged political leaders not to forget that China’s emergence as an economic powerhouse over the past 20 years had underpinned Australia’s 26 years of consecutive economic growth.

“The relationship is finely balanced. It is at a tipping point,” he said. “And for Australia, of course it’s crucial to protect national ­security. At the same time, it’s crucial to understand that by far the biggest single factor that has driven Australian prosperity over the last two decades has been the rise of China and we ignore that at our peril … We are concerned about anything which may harm our ­bilateral relationship.”

Dr Raby — who was Australia’s ambassador to China from 2007-11 — said the introduction of measures to crack down on foreign interference was unlikely to trigger any official economic ­retaliation from Beijing, but ­argued it could result in a damaging image problem for Australia if steps were not taken to smooth over differences and to reset relations.

“If the Chinese government projects Australia as an unfriendly nation and they sustain that, then it could well have an impact on tourism to Australia and the education sector because outward- bound Chinese tourists who are potential students or parents will feel perhaps less comfortable coming to Australia,” Dr Raby said. “I think that will only happen if it were a sustained effort by the Chinese government.

“There needs to be some high-level engagement. I think it would be very helpful if the Prime Minister set out very clearly our interests in the China relationship and why it’s an important relationship.”

The last bit makes sense and would help smooth the way for further much needed reforms:

  • halving immigration;
  • properly policing foreign buying of realty;
  • a code of conduct for unis and quotas to balance nationalities if necessary (as ANU has done);
  • banning all forms of political donations;
  • political candidates may need to be security-screened by ASIO, in the same way that all defense personnel are.
David Llewellyn-Smith
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Comments

    • China is already reacting to the heat from Australia.
      Last night’s ABC news ran a story about China cutting off Australian waste going to China for recyling.
      The cut off starts in 4 months leaving Aussie suppliers saying they need 4 years to work out new supply lines.
      In the meantime it’s back to land fill.
      So China saying “you can keep your sh!t.”

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Good!,…My view is that, in the long run The working class of this country would be much better off, with Australia being totally cut off from access to Chinese Markets and their Cheap Products.
        The trade offs,…to gain their easy additions to our GDP number,… just do not deliver real, meaningful improvements to the vast majority of our citizens standard of living,…in fact the complete opposite appears to be the case.

        The restructure will be hard and complicated,…but the long term benefits to the majority of the population,..of a China cut off,…will be real and meaningful to working class lives.

      • Too bloody right EP. The adjustment will be tough, but worth it in the end. It’s better we get started sooner than wait until the whole Chinese shebang collapses, which it will.

      • (Better late than never …)
        How about this for something crazy radical?
        ATO data today – zero tax on $500b earned here by 700 companies in the FYE 2016. Tax those fu*kers and send the foreign students home. Excise that talking point from “[the] robust open and frank conversation” that we’re not having and deprive those that have sold off and diluted our education system of their rent. Focus on educating Australians and future generations maybe.
        In time (hopefully) the period may become known as “The Great Reset” during which we tear the China Tit from the greedy mouth of youthful Australia.

  1. “Nearly 80 per cent of the foreign donations made to Australia’s political parties since the year 2000 were linked to China, a study of electoral commission data has revealed.”

    That’s cash donations only. If you include donations in kind, you will find that a certain American media mogul gives the LNP millions of dollars of free advertising each year.

      • Yeah, can you imagine the kerfuffle if Russian interests had donated equivalent %s to US political parties? We live in absurd times.

    • Oh boo hoo, the Daily Terror is centre right. What about all the left wing fluff you read in the Saturday paper, Fairfax, guardian etc. The media landscape mostly balances out. This chinese propaganda is far, far worse.

      • Your political compass is out of alignment. The Daily Terror isn’t ‘centre right’ ffs; it’s merely viciously anti-Labor in the cause of keeping the corporate party in power at any cost. It’s Rupert’s non-tax-paying deal enforcer, that’s all. Fairfax and the Guardian aren’t ‘left’; they actually ARE the ‘centre right’, but don’t know it any more than you.

  2. Fed gov cabinet staffers generally already are screened by ASIO depending on what kind of material they need to access. Usually Neg Vetting Level 1. If thats changed recently I dont know but wouldnt hurt.

  3. Mainland Chinese are already infiltrating into lower levels of power:
    Chinese students win power in USyd election
    ‘Panda Warriors’ won the vote and the 33-member Student Representative Council at elections.

    Panda Warriors are pushing for:

    – Multi-lingual support services for housing, academic, and tenancy disputes
    – Concession fares on public transport
    – Lower fees for International students

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      It’s time to stop “Selling” Higher Education as some kind of cash cow, export industry,…this phenomenon needs to be aggressively resisted by both sides of the political divide.
      These National instutions should be primarily for the education of Australian Citizens only,…how this courruption of our higher learning instutions came to pass without far greater vocal critical opposition is an indictment of our impotent elected representatives and mainstream media.
      A failure of epic proportions.

  4. chinese think what works in china will work here, so just telling people that all this is made up and not to worry the CCP will look after you only works on uneducated poor people who’s only goal in life is an investment property and prada bag…….oh wait….we’re farked

  5. Someone suggested to me the other day that Australia should become a nuclear power.
    At first I thought it stupiud.
    Then I thought it might be a sensible means of keeping balance in our relationship with China.
    Thoughts?

  6. Quoted from that James Laurenceson article;

    “This month, James Leibold from La Trobe University, who had previously been one of the most outspoken critics of Australia’s historically pragmatic approach to dealing with China, also called on these pages for an urgent “lowering of the temperature”. This was prompted by a recent visit to China where he and colleague Nick Bisley had encountered emotional and heated reactions not from Chinese officials but rather academics who were known to like and have a soft spot for Australia.”

    It is important for those unfamiliar with China to realise this is normal reaction. Chinese culture does not do nuance, spectrum, or degree relationships. It helps to think of Chinese culture as being “digital” – two modes with nothing in between. Hence we get victim/hubris, quisling/dictator, bootlicking/arrogance etc. with nothing in-between. This can be very jarring until one get used to it and learns to anticipate it.

    Examples are everywhere once you understand what to look for. We can probably expect blood-red flag protesters on our streets soon, with mobs of students (this time playing victim) organised and coerced by United Front activists. (Advice to any foreign students in China: don’t try this there!)

    Get ready.

    • I think China will play victim.
      It would be too damaging to their wider interests to punish us like they did with South Korea with the word watching. Punishing us would remind the world why it is a bad idea to get into bed with the Chinese.

      Hope I’m wrong and they cut off all the tourists and international students.