Why are the loyalties of Chinese- Australians questioned constantly in the public arena?

In my opening statement to the Senate Committee, I talked about the toxic environment for Chinese-Australians who engage in public policy debates right now. In particular, I mentioned that one of the reasons Chinese-Australians are choosing to remain silent is because they don’t want their loyalties to be questioned constantly in the public arena.

I concluded my opening statement with “it is not fair to force them to take positions or political actions, such as critiquing Beijing, when similar requests are not made to other Australians”.

So it is extremely egregious that despite the concerns I raised, Senator Abetz chose to go down this exact road. This is an inquiry on issues facing diaspora communities in Australia. Yet instead of addressing the issues raised by the three witnesses, Senator Abetz proceeded to interrogate each of us on our views of the Chinese Communist Party, as some sort of loyalty test.

Senate Abetz, by his very questioning, demonstrated exactly the many points I have raised in my submission and my opening statement.

To me, this felt less like a public inquiry and more like a public witch-hunt. And the target is Chinese-Australians who are deemed not sufficiently critical enough of the Chinese Government.

Let’s be clear about this: similar requests were not made to Australians of other background or heritage. Other witnesses were not subject to the same interrogation. This is targeted purely at Chinese-Australians.

Senator Abetz, by his own admission, said he received terrible trolling due to his heritage. So it was disappointing that he subjected me to the same treatment.

It made me wonder why I was called to appear in the public hearing in the first place. It’s clear that my submission and my opening statement made no impression. Was I called to the public hearing just so I can be questioned about my views of the Chinese Communist Party, and implicitly, my loyalty to Australia?

This episode is just the latest demonstration of the difficulties Chinese-Australians have to face when they choose to engage in politics or public policy.

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Yun Jiang is an editor of the China Story blog and a director of China Policy Centre.

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