Ban WeChat, demote Marles

The Australian is fighting a losing battle on the election but it has unearthed unsettling material on Labor’s deputy leader, Richard Marles, who appears to have been a driving force behind its total misreading of trends around China:

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles held 10 meetings with the Chinese embassy or officials in the past five years, at a time when tensions were escalating in the Sino-Australia relationship and the Morrison government was frozen out of contact with Beijing.

The issue of contact with Chinese officials, including “wolf warrior” former ambassador Cheng Jingye, who was responsible for issuing a list of 14 demands to Australia, was raised with the national security apparatus, a three-month investigation by The Australian has uncovered.

Mr Marles’s contact with the embassy and attitude towards China sparked concern among Labor colleagues, sources say, including former deputy chair of the joint committee on intelligence and security, Anthony Byrne, and the late Kimberley Kitching.

At one private meeting, Mr Marles is understood to have indicated to Chinese officials that the countries’ relationship would improve under a Labor government.

The Australian has confirmed that Mr Marles met officials from the Chinese embassy or consul-general three times in 2017, once in 2018, twice in 2019, once in 2020, twice in 2021 and a meeting was scheduled with new Chinese ambassador for March 2022 but was postponed.

…Prior to The Australian’s revelations about Mr Marles’s engagement with Beijing, he had established a reputation as a hawk. Over the years, he had developed a strong relationship with the US, holding 29 meetings with US embassy officials over the time he had 10 with Chinese officials. In 2017, he met US embassy officials 10 times, eight times in 2018, five times in 2019, four times in 2020 and twice in 2021. He has also met extensively with the British, New Zealand, French and Israeli embassies.

There is much more to the piece to build the case.

I’m not accusing Marles of explicit wrongdoing. We should be talking to the CCP. But there is a clear lack of judgment in meeting Chinese officials when they have frozen out the government of the day amid a trade war, not to mention as they issue life-threatening lists of demands against democracy.

Labor can decide by itself what kind of political price it paid for this misjudgment but in terms of the national interest, it is some form of a break with foreign policy bipartisanship at a crucial moment.

Did Marles and Labor do it on purpose? To wit:

The Coalition’s muscular position toward China is not going down well with Chinese-speaking voters, while Labor is facing criticism over its more generous approach to humanitarian immigration, an analysis of WeChat audience comments reveals.

The study of more than 3,000 political news stories and associated comments appearing on the Chinese social media platform, WeChat, has been undertaken by researchers at Monash and Deakin Universities over the past 11 months, including during the election campaign.

It provides an insight into the Australian political news reaching Chinese speakers and how they are reacting to it.

It reveals that Scott Morrison dominated WeChat news coverage up until the election campaign, but Anthony Albanese has been catching up.

The study found that Chinese-Australians on WeChat were engaged in complex conversations about issues including the Australia-China relationship, the economy, interest rates and property, immigration and health.

“The key findings of the researchers are that the Liberal party has been criticised for its militaristic position towards China and its alignment with the US. Labor is not liked due to its loose humanitarian immigration scheme, but the party is more preferable compared to the LNP due to its friendlier approach to China,” the study found.

“The Greens have recently gained visible popularity among WeChat users with their friendlier approach towards China and a ‘hands-off’ approach towards Taiwan issues,” they said.

Australia needs to ban WeChat:

Chinese Australians are being shown misinformation and unauthorised political advertising on dominant social network WeChat, during a federal election campaign where major parties are courting their votes in key marginal seats.

WeChat has an estimated 690,000 daily users in Australia. The platform, owned by Chinese internet behemoth Tencent, claims it does not allow political advertising, but even a brief search reveals the widespread existence of what appear to be political ads and misinformation.

When and if it does come to blows with China, whether over Taiwan (which we should use as a trigger for economic containment not war) or over some other island as Beijing advances, will it only be then that Australia asks itself about the viability of further Chinese immigration?

With the outbreak of World War II, there were concerns in Australia about German ‘fifth-columnists’. By 1941 to 1942, many also feared a Japanese invasion. The aims of internment in World War II were to:

  • identify and intern those who threatened the safety or defence of Australia
  • allay public concerns
  • hold internees who were sent to Australia by its overseas allies.

As the war continued, many Japanese people were interned. Germans and Italians were also interned because of their nationality, particularly those living in northern Australia. Around 20 per cent of all Italians living in Australia were interned.

At the peak of the war, Australia held more than 12,000 people in internment camps.

Over the course of the war, internees included:

  • 7000 Australian residents, including 1500 British nationals
  • 8000 people from overseas.

As painful as these questions are, they must be debated.

Houses and Holes
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Comments

    • Ooooh! Thanks for that one!

      In other news, US Coast Guard is on its way.

      Is this what the Greens’ proposed Australian Maritime Service could be? I like the idea of splitting Border Force back into the sky blue Customs, white/maroon AQIS and a new AMS (aka Coast Guard).

      There’s a bit to like about the Greens’ platform.

  1. Ronin8317MEMBER

    An internment camp for 1 million people just because they have black hair, while the gas cartel continues to sell gas to China at below what Australian can get. It’ll be a distraction, but won’t prevent Australia from becoming New South Canton. The WeChat messages didn’t come from the CCP : it came from the LNP. Who is the bad guy here?

    The whole “we can’t talk to the Chinese” stance is stupid. Instead, there should be a lot of ‘talking’ : like forcing the sale of the lease on Port of Darwin, stopping shipment of LPG gas, forcing them to divest ownership of Australia’s electricity network, recognising Taiwan, etc, if the ‘red line’ in Solomon Islands is crossed. That is how diplomacy works.

  2. “The Greens have recently gained visible popularity among WeChat users with their friendlier approach towards China and a ‘hands-off’ approach towards Taiwan issues,

    As traitors are want to do.

    The greens, the greatest terrorist threat to Australia today.

  3. The BystanderMEMBER

    Pretty pathetic that Chinese people in the poll don’t like the Liberals being ‘militaristic’, but are also unhappy that Labor is sympathetic towards refugees. Talk about blatant chauvinism, if not outright racism…

      • The BystanderMEMBER

        That maybe after living in a tolerant, multicultural country that pretty explicitly frowns upon ethnic nationalism – sometimes for decades – the Chinese community would be at least a little more understanding that there are non-Chinese people out there who are equally deserving of respect and support.

        • “Tolerance” is only something that is forced upon White people.

          Those of Chinese heritage may have lived here for decades, but ‘tolerance’ and ‘treating people with respect and support’ has never been expected of them, nor have they been sanctioned/ostracized for diverging from this behaviour.

          So… you expect them to voluntarily be decent human beings??? China would be an immigrant destination if decency was widespread.

          • The BystanderMEMBER

            Yeah, I often get the feeling that non-whites are given repeat free passes on racism and bigotry on the (idiotic) grounds that, since they have suffered past mistreatment, they should be allowed to dish it out themselves for a while before they’re brought into line.

            Not that anyone dares suggest how long a grace period they should receive – that would not only let the cat out of the bag, but would involve some critical thinking from the ‘leaders’ of our institutions

          • It’s not that….

            Yeah, I often get the feeling that non-whites are given repeat free passes on racism and bigotry on the (idiotic) grounds that, since they have suffered past mistreatment,

            This is an idiotic concept of it’s own. ‘mistreatment’ is not a White trait. The Mongols committed deeds just as bad, the Mughals killed 300 million in India, the Berbers were slave traders hunting after White people, atrocities galore happened in the Americas pre-Columbus.

            There is no one pure, Whites have no need to pursue an open ended purity test.

            If anything, with the advent of global institutes, dependable charities and the like, it’d be more accurate to say all races are capable of evil, but only White people are capable of good.

            they should be allowed to dish it out themselves for a while before they’re brought into line.

            There is a war on White people.. there is no ‘line’.

            Not that anyone dares suggest how long a grace period they should receive – that would not only let the cat out of the bag, but would involve some critical thinking from the ‘leaders’ of our institutions

            With the war on White people, there is no critical thinking, there is a dogma…

            If White people suffer more today, than they did yesterday, that is a good outcome.
            if there are less White people today than there were yesterday, that is a good outcome.

            Every ‘racial/social justice’ outcome is viewed through that lens.

    • If new players can do this, imagine what polished multi pronged establishments can do without being noticed…….
      Any of these purposeful misleaders should be Heavily fined – a whole new job sector of Fact Checkers pulling in large revenues…… Ministry of Truth….?
      Fact check it or Ban it.

    • For mine yes WeChat should be banned in Australia. China has made sovereign choices around control of information and news flows within its borders, that are inconsistent with Australia’s sovereign choices around the same issue. Australia has every right to exercise its sovereign choice within her borders and insist on external non-interference in her internal affairs. Any social media provider that does not satisfy our rules should not be allowed to operate here. WeChat clearly does not. Couple of years ago there was the Facebook / news feed event that saw Facebook show us how good it would be if they went away. I am sure that if Australian government was more active in enforcing its requirements and blocking non-compliant providers, then any gap in our market would encourage a new entrant that does satisfy our requirements. And if Australian advertising and IT spend went to an Australian provider instead of offshore (Google, Microsoft, Amazon) it would make a nice change.

  4. I think a Labour Government will shock many… something along the lines of a new strategic direction for the modern times, then they will wheel out the example of Whitlam…

    • I am nervous about Labor in government, but more because Albanese’s reflex responses (wages should go up with CPI) are straight from the 1980s. One of Whitlam’s big mistakes was developing spending programs in long years in Opposition when economic conditions were good but not trimming them when he finally attained Government in early 1973 in recognition that the world economy was weakening, and then later in the year went sour thanks to OPEC. If MB are right then the global economy is due to send us some rough weather and the money he would spend on new programs will have to go to unemployment benefits and industry support. It will need the new crew to show some balance, pragmatism and hard-headedness. Like Hawke/Keating did in 1983/84. If Albanese goes full Whitlam, i.e. implement the program regardless of how the economy is going, it will not go well.

      • Yup, its all about economics and the new world order, the LT play. The US is about to lose a long-time ally (we will try some balancing act, but the outcome is binary). Their sphere will retreat Eastwards. Expect a number of intergovernmental meetings, some sanctions come down, as our spheres merge.

        The only fly in the ointment is Taiwan, which they may move on quickly whilst Biden is still n play.

  5. If voting Chinese in Australia are discussing issues that are of particular interest to them as a group then they are a fifth column. Banning wechat is not enough. Ban dual citizenship.

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