So asks an angry Hongkie at the ABC today:
Before I returned to my birthplace, Hong Kong, to pursue my legal career 18 years ago, I spent 15 years growing up in Melbourne, during which I was an Australian Labor Party supporter.
Even after I left Australia and no longer voted in Australian elections, I continued to cheer on the ALP from afar.
I have always been a mainstream progressive who subscribed to their message of social justice and human rights, but open to economic liberalisation.
When it comes to standing up to authoritarians, the ALP has form.
John Curtin led the fight against fascists during World War II. Ben Chifley dealt firmly with Communist-infiltrated unions. Arthur Calwell spoke firmly against Communist movements.
Bob Hawke sided with the US against the Soviets, and he also granted asylum to all Chinese students in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Kevin Rudd spoke of Australia as authoritarian China’s “zhengyou”, being a Chinese term for a true friend who is not afraid to express disagreements.
With such history, if there were ever to be an archetype of people with whom Labor should firmly stand, the people of Hong Kong ought to be it.
Labor has stayed silent
Millions of protesters in Hong Kong who have protested in recent months are fighting for the very essence of progressive values: freedom from being extradited to face trial at a non-independent judicial system, freedom from fear when exercising one’s fundamental rights, the right to democratic governance. They have the courage to stand up to their authoritarian sovereign.
On July 24, peaceful pro-Hong Kong protesters at the University of Queensland were attacked by a nationalistic Chinese Communist mob.
The attack was later praised by China’s consulate-general in Brisbane.
It prompted Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne to issue a stern statement against such Chinese interference and in defence of free speech.
But the ALP was nowhere to be found.
Then came a similar but larger scale and more expletive-laden incident in Melbourne on August 16, during which an ABC cameraman was pushed over by a pro-Communist Chinese nationalist.
Similar but smaller-scale incidents took place in other Australian cities in those few days.
What did Hongkongers get from the ALP in the aftermath of that weekend?
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, who signed up to China’s Belt and Road initiative, has been conspicuously silent.
As for federal Labor, Penny Wong (who I have long highly respected) made comments about the need for a calm and mature discussion about China.
Sure, Australia’s policy towards China needs to balance competing interests.
But how hard can it be to speak up against Chinese nationalistic bullying against pro-Hong Kong voices on Australia’s own shores?
All this has left mainstream progressives like me in an unsatisfactory position of not being able to look to mainstream progressive support for Hong Kong in Australian politics.
The Liberal government has spoken out more than the ALP has in support of Hongkongers’ rights within Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” framework under China, but its tone is still circumspect compared with that of other Western nations.
And the most vociferous Australian political voices of support for Hong Kong and against expanding Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authoritarianism comes from the hard right of the Liberal Party.
While they have been right to identify the issues at hand, their rhetoric unhelpfully harks back to that of the Cold War.
But perhaps I should not be so surprised.
Recent hearings at the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption are investigating the extent of relationships between the ALP and persons suspected of being close with the CCP.
More generally, the CCP has long sought to quell criticisms from progressives in the western world by accusing those who question its stance and actions as racists.
It would not surprise me if the ALP would be subject to accusations of discrimination against mainland Chinese students and migrants if it stood more firmly in relation to Hong Kong.
That said, as someone who is proud to be ethnically Chinese, I actually find it more racist for progressives to think that Chinese people are all in the mould of the CCP and that we are culturally disinterested in democracy and human rights.
Further, with many US Democratic Party politicians, some British Labour politicians and some Canadian Liberal Party politicians now standing clearly with Hong Kong, the ALP risks becoming an outlier among English-speaking western progressive parties.
Let me be clear. I am not reflexively against everything that the CCP does.
Its record on economic reform in the past 40 years has been largely positive. Its success in leading the most number of people out of poverty in the shortest period of time in human history should be lauded.
All I ask for is that politicians in democracies such as Australia not shirk from calling out the CCP when it acts contrary to universal values of democracy and human rights, including in relation to Hong Kong.
And given their purported core values, mainstream progressive groups including Labor ought to be on the front lines in speaking up for the courageous people of Hong Kong, as well as for those who stand with Hongkongers on Australian shores.
Kevin Yam is a Hong Kong lawyer and political commentator. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not represent those of his employer or any organisations to which he may belong.
Sadly, Kevin, you can expect no support from kow towing Labor. It is the captured vessel of CCP interests whether by:
- direct bribery;
- the co-opting of its greybeards;
- or ideological straight jacket.
The ScoMo Government is doing the bare minimum to push back at the CCP but that is still much better than what Labor would have done had it won the election. I honestly wonder if we would have lost the democracy had it won, given the scale of its corruption, its ideological blinders and an open borders madness that offered to bring in millions of Chinese parents.
Labor is on wrong side of history vis the CCP and it is going to be buried by it.