JASON YAT-SEN LI et al. An open letter from Chinese -Australians calling for national unity.

We are deeply concerned that the recent rise in anti-Chinese sentiment is driving a marked escalation in racial abuse towards Asian Australians. This poses a serious threat to our national unity.

As Australians of Chinese heritage, we have been shocked by footage of the vilification of Asian Australians that has circulated globally across social media with many of the victims targeted because of their Asian appearance. These instances are not isolated. In February, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that one in four people who lodged racial discrimination complaints in the past two months say they were targeted due to COVID-19.

Australians are being targeted because of their Asian heritage or appearance and we cannot allow this disturbing trend to continue unchallenged. We ask for fairness in our national debate, our media reporting and in our communities.

Chinese and other Asian Australians have been in Australia since the 1800s. They have helped to build this nation, fought for Australia in both World Wars and are deeply loyal citizens.

Australians of all backgrounds mobilised and donated generously to affected communities and firefighters during the recent bushfires. And as Australia now battles the virus facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, Chinese Australians have been sourcing and donating large quantities of medical supplies to Australia, alongside other generous organisations and individuals.

As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, national unity is critical to our defence and recovery.

Whilst robust debate about the bilateral relationship between Australia and China is appropriate and important – especially in the context of the protection of our democratic institutions and values – it is essential that the distrust, disenfranchisement and vilification of Asian Australians not be tolerated at any level.

To allow abuse of any group to occur in our current crisis, jeopardises Australia’s social cohesion at the time when we need it most. This is a time for all Australians to come together.

8 April 2020


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12 Responses to JASON YAT-SEN LI et al. An open letter from Chinese -Australians calling for national unity.

  1. Avatar RICHARD HALLIDAY says:

    Alas , tribalism , selfishness and the other downsides of human nature. Similar to the abuse of some health workers.

  2. Franco Smargiassi
    Its unfortunate that a letter like this needs to be published and its 2020…as the song said “When will we ever learn”…I came as as a young lad in 1954 from Italy and have had to put up with varying degree of non-acceptance…and sad that aspects of this is still around in our community. We formed the WA Multicultural Association to try to get people to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful variety of cultures we have here…but, we have some way to go for some people to accept, appreciate and value this richness we have.

  3. Avatar Anthony Pun says:

    Many thanks to Jason Li et al supporting the call to contain racism directed at the 1.2 Chinese Australians and to John Menadue for supporting the community.
    On 6 April 2020, Editor of The Age published our letter:
    “After watching a clip of Alan Jones on Skynews “Australia should ‘take back the land’ from China as damage”, my initial anger turned to sadness that the country of my adoption has gone so far in hurting its citizens of Chinese descent. Jones has surpassed all extreme commentators in Australia for spreading hatred and racial stereotyping against China and Chinese Australians.
    His flawed understanding of COVID-19 and his conclusions are so irresponsible and irrational, that it has attracted a cohort of viewers and encouraged their blatant racism including violence and public hate speech. Jones has outdone even President Trump. At least, Mr Trump, who made remarks about “the Chinese virus” has been subdued in his later remarks. Australia has prospered through its trade with China and would Jones ask his followers to return all the benefits of this trade from the past 30 years?
    The Chinese Community Council of Australia asks fellow Australians and political leaders to take steps to discourage hate speech and racist behaviour. We support Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition leader Anthony Albanese and call on all Australians to unite to defeat the common enemy coronavirus. It is not the time for blame but to help one another to restore our healthy and prosperous multicultural society?
    Dr Anthony Pun, Dr Ka Sing Chua, Chinese Community Council of Australia (https://www.theage.com.au/national/bull-in-a-china-shop-no-place-for-xenophobia-in-australian-society-20200406-h1n6c0.html)

    The fake news about sending medical supplies to China also attracted an angry response from CCCA in the article “What a shame Kate McClymont, Nick McKenszie and SMH!. (http://www.au123.com/view/ocean/20200402/524242.html) Our sentiments were supported by APAC News “The Sydney Morning Herald’s top journalist in a misleading beatup wrongly suggesting Chinese Australians are robbing the community of vital medical supplies” (https://apac.news/targeting-chinese-australians-in-an-australian-crisis/0

    Our latest commentary on the subject recently appear in au123.com “No place for any xenophobic propaganda in Australian society”.

  4. Avatar Malcolm Crout says:

    Covid-19 has been compared to the Last World War, and in this respect, the comparison becomes vivid. Germans who had settled here decades prior were interned without due process, many changed their names, street and town names were changed, citizens of German appearance were abused on the streets and people changed their names to avoid stigma.

    Then came European migration and locals rose to the same narrow perspectives, claiming new migrants didn’t want to integrate People were called dagos, pollacks, and poms, to mention just a few.

    Thankfully, this time we are not interning people because of their appearance or names, albeit that the State is imposing travel restrictions and in time these may be viewed the the lens of history as being draconian. But people without jobs, with a health epidemic ravaging the country, look for someone or something to blame. People who can be identified as foreign become viewed with suspicion and as situations become grim, even moderate folk tend to develop extreme views. The media are unhelpful, by displaying foreign looking people fighting over toilet rolls or harping on about Chinese spies in our midst. The wave of new Chinese into the country for education or business, seemingly gaining citizenship which many existing citizens see as buying a passport, are alarmed, irrespective of the real facts.

    So the stage is set for racial violence as the pent up emotions are given an avenue to vent. It’s wrong and will be seen as another stain of racism on Australian history. I blame Governments in all of the cases illustrated. By failing to explain policy and without proper consultation before enabling or enacting policy, they sow the seeds of discontent. One would think they would have learned by now. This is not an excuse for such behavior, but when populations feel they have been dispossessed, they become irrational.

  5. Avatar jan goodall says:

    as an older Australian, I am deeply ashamed that fellow Australian citizens of Asian appearance, have suffered prejudice and discrimination. Our schools should be addressing this issue in civics lessons. I must apologise for the stupidity and prejudice of these ignorant people.

  6. Avatar David Maxwell Gray says:

    I agree totally with the words of your statement. I also believe it appropriate for you to assert your belief and respect for your ethnic origins, whether recent or many generations ago. I venerate mine – Border Scots, Highland Scots and Yorkshire men and women- not because they were better than any others, but because they are mine. You are just as much an Australian as I am. You have my respect and affection, as fellow Australians.

  7. Avatar Robin Wingrove says:

    What a sad commentary on our nation that such a plea has to be made.

  8. Avatar John Fitzgerald says:

    A timely, welcome and powerful statement. Thank you all.

  9. Avatar roma guerin says:

    This is a major embarrassment for all Australians. I am appalled by this disgusting behaviour towards anyone of Asian appearance. Many Australians have been so poorly educated about the breadth of nationalities in our population and their contribution to society as a whole. Our Chinese citizens go back many, many generations in some families. I am so sorry that your letter needed to be written.

  10. Avatar Garry Woodard says:

    And so say all of us who care about our heritage and future.

  11. The lamentable situation is not helped by soldier boy Andrew Hastie and that ratbag Peter Jennings from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute both of whom are yet to be proved right about anything but still get a media guernsey even on the ABC (although the mania for for more popular appeal may explain that).
    Both see a Chinese malignant influence everywhere and their “certainty” feeds the prejudices of, possibly, the majority of older Australians who grew up with White Australia and Yellow Perils. The bulk of the population being poorly educated and anti intellectual, for the most part, doesn’t help.
    Hastie didn’t know about the homicidal culture of the SAS in which he served yet the Australian military propensity for excess has been commented on since Robert Graves exposed it a century ago in “Goodbye to All That”. Despite that level of gormlessness, he knows things about the CCP that no-one else seems to except for Jennings of course.

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