Respected thinker Clive Hamilton’s new book, ‘The Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia’, is very scary essential reading. This book’s deep research opened my eyes to China, especially now that Xi is President for life. It’s essential reading because it exposes so much that has long term impacts. If we don’t recognise these factors soon, it may be too late.A Brief Synopsis
Hamilton makes the following key points:
– China under Xi believes China is on a ‘100 year marathon’ which began in 1948, to resume its rightful place as world leader – China’s view of the world is long-term and social, whereas the West and Australia particularly are short-term and economic
– The Communist Party has re-taken firm central control of China and is significantly reducing internal freedoms
– China knows how to use the language of the West to appease the West, while holding relatively secret its own agenda of world domination…unless you read Chinese
– China invests in the West to gain/steal knowledge to fast-track its development
– China is a major funding contributor to the two main Australian political parties and to particular politicians
– There are over 1,000 collaborative agreements between Australian and Chinese universities
– Overseas-born Chinese are in key positions in many Australian technology and university organisations, so discoveries here can flow quickly to China without any Chinese investment
– Overseas Chinese born in China are more loyal to China than they are to their adopted country and are pressured to gather knowledge and take actions on behalf of China
– Many Chinese organisations and key Chinese in Australia are connected to high levels in the Communist Party
– Our openness and transparency mean we actively assist China to access our knowledge cheaply (perhaps a good idea when China was a developing country, but is no longer the case)
– There are many Chinese-only organisations on university campuses and in large cities, paid for by the Chinese government, whose task is to diligently gather information and shout down sensitive Chinese issues (eg Tibet, Falun Gong, human rights, intellectual property, military expansion in the South China Sea)
– China retaliates against individuals and organisations (Australian or Chinese) who disagree with them, causing specific economic problems for them
– China has over 1,000 spies operating in Australia
– Chinese investment is driving inflation of the Australian property market, with over 25% of all properties in Sydney and Melbourne now being sold to Chinese
– China is aiming to be well placed to mine Antarctica when the existing treaty expires in 2048
– and much more!
Chinese organisations such as Huawei, ZTE, Confucius Institutes, Australian organisations such as UNSW, UTS, Sydney University, ANU, CSIRO, The Australian Chinese Relations Institute and Australians such as Bob Hawke, Andrew Robb, Sam Dastyari, Bob Carr and Julie Bishop are just some who are highlighted as assisting or heavily benefitting from key Chinese relationships.
Isn’t this just being Xenophobic?
Some argue that this is just a natural phenomenon of global power. After all, didn’t we fear the Americans, then the Japanese? Is China so different? Hamilton argues that, yes, it is different, because China’s values are completely different from ours. He compares how the US and China would handle different views, rule of law, academic freedom and criticism of itself, and the differences are scary.
Hamilton argues that China is gaining control of our economy (and others) through deciding to take or not take major exports, being our major import, being significantly represented in our knowledge-creating institutions, having the largest international student population (around 30-40% of all international students) and, through being a very major supporter of political parties and MPs, gaining undue political influence and stifling debate or criticism of China. Many of the specific examples shocked me.
What to Do?
First, we need to ban political donations from all foreign sources. Our politics should be determined by our people.
Second, cybersecurity – the newest warfare – must be significantly increased, be under control of Australians and not include people linked to foreign countries.
Third, we need to ensure foreign governments do not gain control of strategic assets (eg telecoms, defence, electricity companies, agriculture, R&D, universities). Long term control of these assets is critical.
Fourth, we need to significantly tax foreign investment in Australian property so that, at the very least, significant revenue flows to local governments as compensation for loss of economic control of Australian land.
Fifth, we need to oppose China on issues strategic issues important to us and our values, even though there will be short term economic costs. We should not be bought off for short term economic gain.
Really – but it won’t happen – we need our own long-term philosophy, our own 100 year marathon. Where do we want to be as a country in 100 years? What do we have to do to get there? How do we ensure that we are in control of the vital aspects of our country, regardless of who the prevailing major powers are at the time? And then take actions to achieve it. Currently, we are being overrun, but we don’t even recognise it!
Note that all these actions relate to all foreign countries, not just China.
This book is controversial. It names many people and institutions, so it’s not surprising that reviews and responses are critical, as many already have significant conflicts of interest. I’m in favour of deregulated markets, free trade, democracy and Western values. I’m in favour of working with all countries, but not in favour of being taken advantage of by any. These recommendations would go a long way to addressing the threat of Chinese power now – and other powers later.