| 23 May 2024, Thursday |

Australia’s foreign interference laws fueled suspicion of Chinese community -report

The introduction of foreign interference legislation in Australia in 2018 helped to curtail Beijing’s overtures to the Chinese community there, but it also created tensions that alienated many Chinese-Australians, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Lowy Institute, a foreign policy think tank.

The law sparked a deterioration in relations, which intensified after Australia barred Huawei from its 5G network and called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, prompting China to retaliate with trade sanctions.

According to the research, which was based on interviews with 30 such individuals designated as leaders in their fields, some of whom were in government, and five focus groups, the sourring of relationships left many Chinese Australians locked in a competition for their loyalty.

According to the research, China, which is run by the Communist Party, actively engages overseas Chinese communities in Australia and abroad to support the country’s political interests and economic development.

There are 1.2 million Chinese people in Australia.

While many Chinese-Australians welcomed laws against foreign interference as helping to protect against such efforts, a larger number said political, verbal, and sometimes physical attacks on Chinese communities had also increased amid Australia’s intense national debate about China, it added.

The law increased scrutiny of Chinese Australian community organizations. Such bodies set up in Australia over the past two decades had clear links to China’s government, the report found.

“While these groups claim to speak for Chinese-Australians, our research suggests that most people have little or no engagement with these organizations,” said Lowy Institute research fellow Jennifer Hsu.

  • Reuters