When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called last year for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, China retaliated with tariffs. Domestically, a cohort of Beijing-friendly former ambassadors, foreign and defense ministers, and state premiers dutifully reminded the public that China’s status as Australia’s biggest trading partner makes antagonizing the regime a risky business.
Beijing sycophants have recycled versions of this talking point for years, rationalizing China’s contempt for Western universal values, territorial aggrandizement, repression of religious minorities, and political persecution at home and abroad. Behind the scenes, many of these policymakers have been cultivated by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and proxies via campaign donations, quid pro quos, travel junkets, and lucrative post-political career gigs, to believe they’re serving Australia’s national interests when in reality they’re allowing Beijing to pull the strings. This use of China’s soft power is not at all limited to Australia.
AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS ARE GETTING LOCKED DOWN AGAIN. OR FORCED TO QUARANTINE FACILITIES BY THE ARMY
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Now a compromised political elite is responding to a virus likely juiced up in a Chinese bioweapons lab by adopting in lockstep scientifically unprecedented, CCP-style social control measures. Their subservience and self-interest have finally caught up with the people, who are hostages in an ideological war between democracy and the new totalitarianism.
For China, the Cold War Never Ended
While the West deludes itself that the Cold War has been over since 1991, for the CCP, it never ended. Determined to reshape the international order in its image, China has deployed its vast economic wealth to subvert, coerce, and cajole policymakers and spread its tendrils of influence throughout the world.
U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray explains that China’s highly sophisticated and covert foreign influence involves targeting individuals close to an official, then leveraging that co-opted middleman to “whisper in the official’s ear” and help sway policy. Often these intermediaries are unaware they’re being used as CCP pawns. Crucially, Wray even references reports by American officials that “Chinese diplomats are aggressively urging support of China’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.”
In 2019, the recently retired director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) outlined the implications for Australia. He warned that the Chinese government’s foreign interference operations pose an “existential threat” to Australia’s political system and that the impact might not be apparent until it’s too late. Lewis wrote in ASIO’s 2018 annual report that foreign actors were “attempting to clandestinely influence” the opinions of government officials, the public, media, and diaspora communities.
Also that year, federal member of the House of Representatives Andrew Hastie told Parliament that “Marxist-Leninist authoritarian regimes are conducting espionage and foreign interference against Western liberal democracies … on an unprecedented scale.” The legislation he referred to was the result of a classified report prepared by prime ministerial advisor John Garnaut, who later described Australia as “the canary in the coal mine of CCP interference.” According to Professor Clive Hamilton, author of “Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia,” China has carefully groomed Australia’s elites to view the world through a CCP lens.
Grooming Western Elites to Obey Chinese Orders
The quagmire is wide and murky. One of the most infamous cases is the downfall of Senator Sam Dastyari. His billionaire benefactor Huang Xiangmo, former chair of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC), an organization linked to the United Front Work Department, was found by ASIO to be a covert agent of Chinese government influence. Dastyari was forced to resign in 2017 following an expense and donations scandal, an extraordinary pro-CCP contradiction of his party’s official position on the South China Sea, and revelations he had warned Huang he was under surveillance.
Huang also donated to former Trade Minister Andrew Robb while he was negotiating the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and reportedly provided Robb informal advice about the deal. After leaving office, Robb accepted an $880,000 consultancy gig with a firm whose billionaire owner is a member of the CCP-created Chinese People’s Consultative Committee, a United Front advisory body. Robb was subsequently engaged by the Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative (ACBRI), a group set up by Beijing to promote Xi Jinping’s strategically pivotal intercontinental infrastructure scheme.
A prominent supporter of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is former Victorian State Premier John Brumby, previously on the board of Huawei and currently national president of the Australia-China Business Council (ACBC). ACBC board member David Guppy has commended China’s “disciplined, coordinated and effective” pandemic response, and its president David Olsson is urging the Australian government to “work with China” to develop a vaccine passport relying on China-controlled blockchain infrastructure.
Does China Run Australia
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, who has presided over the world’s most locked-down city and is pushing through “terrifying” emergency powers legislation, was an enthusiastic signatory of the BRI. The federal government later vetoed Victoria’s agreement, but not before the Andrews government ludicrously paid the ACBRI almost $40,000 to provide advice on the merits of its own initiative.
Western Countries Using Chinese Repression on Covid
Andrews’ parliamentary secretary, Danny Pearson, led the negotiations on Victoria’s involvement with the BRI, and has lauded China’s rapid repression in the name of Covid. Pearson traveled to China in late 2019 to discuss with high-level CCP officials potential opportunities for furthering Victoria-China collaboration.
Traveling with Pearson was Senior Advisor Marty Mei, who has accompanied Andrews on multiple delegations to China. Mei, along with two other CCP-linked Andrews staffers, including a former visa officer for the Chinese Consulate who was spreading the CCP propaganda that Covid originated in the United States, have been connected with United Front groups including the ACPPRC. The national affiliate of one suspected group recommends a Covid policy that “suspend[s] our personal freedom for the good of all” and continues “strict lockdowns.”
Another China enthusiast is Northern Territory Chief Commissioner Michael Gunner, who just announced vaccination and future booster mandates for workers and threatened $5,000 fines for non-compliance. Gunner’s trade deals with China have been marred by shiftiness, obfuscation, and obsequiousness.
Touting the BRI at a 2018 ACBC sponsored event, Gunner described Australia’s north as “the belt and road’s gateway into the markets and minds of Australia.” Recklessly overlooking China’s penchant for reimagining territorial boundaries in line with fabricated claims of ancient entitlement, he echoed propaganda by CCP mouthpiece China Daily, a media partner for the event, and parroted a disproven assertion that a Chinese fleet supposedly reached Australian shores in the early 1400s.
Importing Chinese Social Credit in Vaccine Passports
One of Beijing’s most valued pro-China advocates is Premier Mark McGowan of Western Australia, where Covid rules outrageously require Australian citizens wanting to visit the state to submit a litany of personal data to obtain a digital pass. In 2018, McGowan awarded Huawei a $200 million rail network contract against internal security advice, and despite a conflict of interest arising from his transport minister’s all-expenses-paid tour of Huawei’s operations in 2015 while she was still in opposition.
McGowan recently appointed to a multicultural advisory council the reported founder and honorary chairman of a branch of the ACPPRC, Dr. Edward Zhang. Zhang also owns the Australian Chinese Times newspaper, described by Hamilton as the “first pro-CCP newspaper in Australia.” The paper’s founder, businessman Zhu Minshen, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to both major political parties and was one of the donors involved in Dastyari’s downfall.
The cesspool described above is a mere drop in the vast and fetid waters of influence-peddling and infiltration. A compromised political class has allowed Chinese investment dollars to buy up energy and water assets, ports, rail, mines, and agricultural land, and obtain the political leverage that goes with it.
China Isn’t Kidding about Its Communism
With Covid as an excuse, elected representatives and their advisors are now selling off Australia’s most precious asset, and central to China’s “seven taboos”—our free democracy. Whether as collaborators or useful idiots, they’re signing up to President Xi Jinping’s goal of a “new world order” with a rejuvenated China as its steward, and its tech-enabled authoritarianism serving as a blueprint for what will become tributary western nations.
Xi recently reiterated that “[Marxism] is the very soul of our Party and the banner under which it strives.” Hastie, now assistant minister for defense, has called on Australians to be “intellectually honest and take the Chinese leadership at its word,” explaining that “we are dealing with a fundamentally different vision for the world.”
Unfortunately, even astute China critics aren’t recognizing the communist forest for the pandemic trees. Hamilton, who warns that Australia is a “testing ground for [China’s] tactics to assert its ascendency in the West,” regrettably moonlights as a purveyor of Covid-cult propaganda attacking “antivaxxers” and ridiculing as “conspiracies” suggestions that government is taking away our liberty.
Yet government is doing exactly that. They are even contradicting pre-Covid pandemic influenza plans that advise against workplace closures, highlight the limited efficacy of school closures, recommend voluntary quarantine of sick individuals and their contacts, and stress “voluntary consent” for pandemic vaccination programs.
Mowing Down Human Rights
Indeed, at an early February 2020 press conference, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly assured the public Australia had an existing pandemic influenza plan that would generally be suitable for the novel coronavirus. Health Minister Greg Hunt stressed that the World Health Organization (WHO) had in recent years “identified Australia as being at the absolute global forefront of preparedness.”
Then in early March, Canadian epidemiologist and WHO advisor Dr. Bruce Aylward addressed health officers across Australia. Aylward had headed a WHO team to Hubei province in February 2020 and fawned over China’s pandemic response. When he clumsily pretended not to hear a journalist’s question on WHO membership for Taiwan, Aylward blatantly revealed whose interests he serves.
Speaking to Australian professionals, Aylward also defended China’s lockdown of whole cities, praised the collectivist response of an authoritarian regime and its compliant population, and insisted its strategy had saved lives. The chief public health officer for South Australia actually admits to chucking out her state’s comprehensive plan after listening to this China stooge’s “very insightful video lecture.”
Treating Citizens Like Slaves
Now state governments are providing long lists of things the unvaccinated will be “unable” to do, warning that they will be locked out of the economy, and threatening that those who have not received a third booster shot will soon be stripped of their freedoms. Even the promising new NSW Premier Dom Perrottet is falling for the perversity, contrary to his own pre-Covid stance, that government gets to magnanimously bestow freedom on the groveling serfs, or withhold it on a whim.
Former ASIO chief Duncan Lewis warned that Australians could “wake up one day and find decisions made in our country that are not in the interests of our country.” That day is now.
Although demand for transparency and accountability is gaining traction, what’s needed is a probe into how a Beijing-manipulated elite responded to a disease concocted in China by importing its tyrannical “public health” edicts, trashing our self-government along the way. These policymakers cannot be trusted to make decisions in the public and national interest and must answer for the devastation they have inflicted.
Carina Benton is a native Australian living in Washington state. She is a practicing Catholic and has taught for many years in Catholic and Christian schools. She is a mother of two young children.