Since this story was published, I received another tip-off from a reader who alerted me to some personal accounts of three Canberra residents who were present at the Canberra torch relay. Their unpleasant encounters with the pro-China thugs were published on 26 April 2008 in The Canberra Times.
The arrogant display of nationalism by visiting Chinese during the Canberra Torch Relay may have invoked some unintended consequences that will yield perverse effects contrary to what China originally intended. The propaganda exercise orchestrated by the Chinese Embassy in Canberra showed little respect for Australia’s social values and national integrity. The damage they have inflicted on Australia-China relations is nearly catastrophic.
The extent of the damage can be seen from the following comments to the latest Crikey Report about the Canberra Torch Relay:
Thursday, 24 April 2008 4:03:17 PM
Is that a fishing net of red herrings, or what? Palestine? How exactly do you do “violence” to an inanimate torch? In the Sydney 2000 Olympics we Sydney siders embraced the Aboriginal protest movement. The City Council gave a central public park space up, with a bit of cajoling and pressure, but they did. Lots of adverse and shaming stories about our warts. We took it all in our stride. Why even bother making excuses for the manipulative dictatorial control of China Inc head office? Of course most of their diaspora on student visas etc (50K I read once) are trusties and sheep. Derr. That’s exactly the problem. The coverage today said these brave souls were shouting “liars” at the Uygurs and Tibetans. Most people in open free press western countries know who the liars are in my humble opinion and it’s not the Tibetans as their environment is totally trashed by the parasitic so called ‘motherland’. Lets not talk about arms to Zimbabwe, Burma, NK, Taiwan, Hong Kong ….
Thursday, 24 April 2008 4:10:02 PM
I’ve lived in the inner city near Sydney’s Chinatown for many years, and I’ve never before seen mobs of local Australian-Chinese bearing the Chinese flag with rabid fervour – I imagine many Australian-Chinese immigrants/refugees have their own reasons for not being overly enthusiastic about a flag which for many would represent a totalitarian regime from which they have fled – What we saw today in Canberra was a rent-a-crowd of predominantly visiting Chinese students, and I’m sure the Chinese embassy found very convincing ways to “persuade” these kids to commandeer the torch relay with a crass display of faux nationalism and in some cases downright censorship as they were choreographed to obliterate camera shots with their flags. In contrast the Tibetan protestors conducted themselves mainly peacefully and with dignity. The Chinese government has reduced the Olympics to a farce.
Friday, 25 April 2008 7:47:27 AM
I didn’t see any Chinese protestors at the torch relay. As Tom McL points out, those bused in Chinese students were under the “control and coordination” of the Chinese Govt. machine, ie pawns in a propaganda exercise. Interesting that the Chinese Govt. couldn’t get away with these blatant tactics in any other western countries through which the torch has passed, but they assumed they could get away with it in the Australian capital. Makes Australia look like a compliant theatre for Chinese Govt. propagada (sic) indulgence, and that’s pretty embarrassing.
This is Australian patriotism at its very best. Note that the commenters are not voicing objections against authentically personal and personally organised demonstrations – the kind which are illegal in the PRC. Rather, Australian indignation is directed towards the blatantly inconsiderate, arrogant and obsessive intrusion of the Chinese Embassy in the internal affairs of this nation, specifically the right to host the Torch Relay at Australian terms on Australian soil. This includes Australia’s uncompromisable privilege to allow protestors from different interest groups to hold spontaneous peaceful demonstrations, including those directed against the appalling human rights records of the Chinese Communist regime, and to ensure that those protesters need not fear physical attacks or intimidation, both of which crimes have been inflicted upon Australian citizens by China’s New Red Guard thugs.
From an Australian perspective, the hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games does not give China any immunity from criticism. If anything, it actually puts China in the limelight for heightened international scrutiny. This is just a part of the deal. Among the tests of China’s desired status as internationally acknowledged “normal country” (sorry but China’s “greatness” will have to wait for at least another century) is its willingness to live up to its Olympic promises and to make a genuine effort to improve its human rights records. As the commenter Tom McLoughlin has aptly put it: “…if you want our respect, you have to be able to take all our criticism in stride.” I am afraid the Torch Relay saga once again proves that the Communist Regime in China does not deserve the respect and friendship of Australia or any decent member of the community of nations.