No room for yellow elephant

Whether or not it was the author’s intentions, the Lowy Institute’s “Being Chinese” report has already been used in some narrow quarters, particularly on social media, to further marginalise Chinese-Australians. Kingsley Liu, lawyer and President of the Chinese Community Council of Australia questions a survey which leaves some of the results wide open to interpretation.

6 March 2021 | Kingsley Liu

The recent Lowy Institute report, Being Chinese in Australia, on first view seems useful and revealing into a number of aspects for Chinese-Australian diaspora. We are positive immigrants and contributors. As a large community group we are safe citizens and conservative by nature.

A main concern is that the analysis will lead to more stereotyping. It will justify the suspicion that this community has already attracted copiously from mainstream media and right wing politicians.

The questions were constructed to get black and white answers, that leads to an analysis which brushes over the many nuances that the complex relationship of geopolitics, bilateral relationships at trade, academic, social, cultural and interplay of people in rich relationships developing between Western and Asian groups. There are no multiple choices or a 1 to 5 scale in this survey.

We note the questions that polarize stark choices of authoritarian versus democracy; Australian versus non-Australian and identity versus timelines. These are shallow questions, the design of this survey is shallow, it leads to shallow data, and equally shallow analysis.

There are many one liners to glean out of this and politicians from the right will have a field day with the Lowy report—a marketer’s delight, as this could run in parliament for years.

I refer to the discrimination and racism section. It focuses on the language of the open street. We don’t wish to respond in street terms. Discrimination and marginalization is loaded into the Australian Constitution, the litany of legislations and policies such as the Poll Tax, Factories Act, Immigration Restriction Act, Dictation tests, and even the new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme. Institutional bias in Australia is the real fuel for those laws where licenses of racism are derived.

What do the words “favourable to the Chinese system of government” mean? Is it ending of poverty in record time, genocide of minorities, takeover of our valuable economy, or are these just answers to fill behind a blank wall?

The report dissects and exposes the underbelly of 1.2 million community of Chinese Australians. We have now a substantial post 2010 group where:

  • in various hidden ways, still harbors love for CCP, is not loyal to Australian values and freedom, and does not yet appreciate democratic government and who do not even weigh the threat of foreign influence like the rest of Australia.
  • it is a group that largely is linked to WeChat as preferred media source and are enclaved in its own united mother tongue. WeChat is now the Chinese elephant that manifests the web. It looks like the next fifth column for future and silent invasion.

The takeaway is the justification of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Legislation, the surveillance policies, AFP raids, registration of foreign agents … in time a number of agencies will serve as the watchdogs on suspect organisations and individuals and their relationship with each other and overseas.

The second takeaway is that we have been defined as a new target group. We cling to our motherland, reject democracy, and have less than proper true blue values. This is our major problem since our group seems not to be able to assimilate. But we point your national multicultural principles are getting forgotten in the mix of the new cold diplomacy.

The third takeaway is that our group wears the cloak of invisibility with everyone looking the same, and when you cannot hear us speak, we will be equally marginalised in your eyes

Chinese-Australians have no room left to move around in the valley of the Yellow Peril. We are all as one, deemed by mainstream to be fresh off the boat. My great grandfather landed on Australian shores. 150 years later and I cannot even raise a trace of a Chinese accent and yet I stand with my own diaspora to scream silently at the Lowy report.

Kingsley Liu currently serves as National President Asian Australian Lawyers Association and President of Chinese Community Council of Australia, he is the founding partner of law firm The Peoples Solicitors and hold degrees in engineering and law from University of Melbourne and University of New England.