Chinese cultural influence over Australia felt in Perth by expats in academia and media

WHY are we not surprised?

AFTERALL we have been witnessing China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) … its expansion … and its impact on poor Nations …

AND as Professor Clive Hamilton reminded us …

“The best way to understand this is through the lens of [former Chinese leader] Mao Zedong’s tactic of:

‘use the countryside to surround the city‘”

WITH the FIRB it appears has facilitated the growth of the Diaspora throughout Australia buying up our Real Estate … our Sovereignty!

The silent invasion of our Universities … the data breach of the ANU …

and at the three levels of government …



Chinese cultural influence over Australia felt in Perth by expats in academia and media

By Eliza Borrello

11 NOVEMBER 2019

A man stands in a corridor holding a mobile phone.

PHOTO: James Jing has been frustrated in his efforts to get support to research Chinese social media influence. (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

RELATED STORY: China’s actions ‘inconsistent’ with Australian values, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says

Born in China, James Jing moved to Australia in his early 20s, seeking to continue his tertiary education and secure work.

*Now aged 39, he believes his academic career is over, bottoming out as a casual Chinese Studies academic at Perth’s Curtin University.

For that, he blames the influence of Beijing.

“I wouldn’t imagine that the tentacle could be extended so far over the oceans,” he said.

Mr Jing has been teaching at Curtin for 12 years but said he had been frustrated in his efforts to secure support for a PhD.

A man holds a mobile phone with Chinese writing on it.

PHOTO: James Jing was hoping to research Chinese influence on social media platform WeChat. (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

*He said he had spent years unsuccessfully trying to convince more senior members of Curtin’s academic staff, in the faculties of Education and Media, to supervise his research into censorship and the Chinese social media platform WeChat.

*WeChat is owned by the Chinese tech giant Tencent, which sponsors events and programs at Curtin.

A professional and personal toll

Mr Jing said he had never formally received a rejection letter from Curtin for his PhD proposal, but he believed it has been cast aside by professors from the School of Media out of fear supporting it could upset Tencent.

Mr Jing said the School of Education also believed his proposal was too controversial.

“The censorship and self-censorship here at Curtin is reaching to a point where I think it’s limiting a lot of potentials for the Chinese diaspora scholars at Curtin,” Mr Jing said.

“So it’s not really delivering the quality a research institute is expected to deliver.

“I do hope that Curtin can do something about this.

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A Curtin University spokeswoman said Mr Jing’s PhD proposal was considered by two professors in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry and the School of Education.

The spokeswoman said Mr Jing had also sought advice from an Associate Professor in Curtin’s Centre for Culture and Technology.

“After consideration, all three had determined that the proposal Mr Jing had presented fell outside their areas of expertise and therefore they did not believe that they had the required disciplinary expertise for supervision of a PhD-level topic in the area proposed,” she said.

“Curtin University rejects any suggestion of censorship or self-censorship regarding PhD proposals or any other research projects.”

A man holds a mobile phone with Chinese writing on it.

PHOTO: Tencent, a sponsor of Curtin University, is one of China’s biggest technology companies. (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

The university also rejected the assertion that it had been influenced by commercial partnerships like the one with Tencent.

“Curtin, like every other university, has a range of partnerships and relationships with business and industry and a robust system for maintaining the integrity of research and research proposals,” the spokeswoman said.

“Curtin University absolutely supports academic freedom and has well-established policies and guidelines to ensure the intellectual freedom of staff and students.”

“Any influence by companies, Chinese or otherwise, is counter to the policies, guidelines and values of our University.”

Mr Jing said not being able to complete a PhD had taken a toll on him personally.

A man sits at a desk holding a mobile phone.

PHOTO: James Jing’s career has suffered and he says he has been marginalised. (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

“I feel like I have been marginalised and ostracised,” he said.

“I haven’t been able to maintain a steady income for my family to raise my kids.”

He also acknowledged speaking out would have consequences, “but at the same time my conscience told me this is against [how] you have been brought up”.

“[I] have stepped onto the soil of Australia and become an Australian citizen and you have your pledge to the host, Advance Australia Fair, all these kinds of values.”

Advertisers steer clear of non-Communist newspaper

Fears of Chinese influence in Western Australia extend beyond the field of academia.

*From a modest Perth office, Wade Zhong edits the local edition of the Epoch Times, a Chinese-language newspaper that is not aligned with the Communist Party.

A man in a suit reads a newspaper outside the Epoch Times office.

PHOTO: Epoch Times editor Wade Zhong says Chinese influence has scared away advertisers. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

He estimates it has a readership of up to 30,000 people in Western Australia.

Mr Zhong said he established the newspaper to counter the anti-Falun Gong narrative being pushed in other Chinese media.

Falun Gong is a spiritual group to which Mr Zhong belongs whose practices are outlawed in China.

Earlier this year an independent tribunal found what it said was “clear evidence” China had been murdering Falun Gong members and harvesting their organs, accusations Beijing has repeatedly denied.

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Mr Zhong said would-be advertisers shied away from his paper because of pressure from afar

“A lot of people like to read our newspapers but still they are too afraid of doing business with us,” he said.

“We don’t have any direct evidence, of course this is hard to find, and definitely we know that is from the Chinese Government or its agents.”

Chinese pressure in Australia ‘total nonsense’

*China’s top diplomat in WA, Consul General Dong Zhihua, said she was unaware of the context of the men’s grievances but dismissed the suggestion Beijing’s influence could reach so far.

“It is totally nonsense that the Chinese Government or the Consulate General here is exerting any kind of pressure to anybody about speaking anything,” she said. *


A headshot of a woman in a blue shirt and cream jacket.

PHOTO: China Consul General in Perth Dong Zhihua denies claims of influence from Beijing. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

*But retired academic and independent China researcher Wai Ling Yeung said the public needed to be aware of China’s agenda.

“It is important not to look at China as an enemy, because China’s not an enemy to us or to Western Australia or to Australians, China’s one of the trading partners,” she said.

*“But at the same time we have to understand what motivates the Chinese communist party.”

“I think China’s looking at, through improving relations with Western Australia, to undermine our Federal Government’s alliance with the United States.”

A headshot of a woman in a suit in front of some trees.

PHOTO: Wai Ling Yeung argues the public needs to be aware of China’s agenda. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

Ms Dong rejected this theory, saying it was a mutually beneficial relationship.

“It’s a bit exaggeration … I think it’s not only a matter of WA’s dependence or reliance on China, it’s a mutually beneficial cooperation,” she said.

China benefited a lot, we also depend on Australia in a way in terms of our resource security, the critical resources, the iron ore, the other mineral resources that is very important for our industrialisation and our urbanisation.”

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Ms Dong also lamented what she described as constant “suspicions” of attempted Chinese interference as she went about her diplomatic work.

“I always want to be treated like any other consul general,” she said.

*But Mr Zhong said Australian companies and politicians had a responsibility to protect what he saw as the core values of western countries.

“That’s freedom … and democracy,” he said.

“If they don’t fight for that [it] will be eroded … more and more from the Chinese Communist Party,” he said,

“They just push — they push, push, push and we don’t know what’s the limit, where it ends.” *