A compromised political elite is responding to a virus likely juiced up in a Chinese bioweapons lab by adopting scientifically unprecedented, Communist-style social controls.
When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called last year for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, China retaliated with tariffs. Domestically, a cohort of Beijing-friendly former ambassadors, foreign and defense ministers, and state premiers dutifully reminded the public that China’s status as Australia’s biggest trading partner makes antagonizing the regime a risky business.
Beijing sycophants have recycled versions of this talking point for years, rationalizing China’s contempt for Western universal values, territorial aggrandizement, repression of religious minorities, and political persecution at home and abroad. Behind the scenes, many of these policymakers have been cultivated by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and proxies via campaign donations, quid pro quos, travel junkets, and lucrative post-political career gigs, to believe they’re serving Australia’s national interests when in reality they’re allowing Beijing to pull the strings. This use of China’s soft power is not at all limited to Australia.
Now a compromised political elite is responding to a virus likely juiced up in a Chinese bioweapons lab by adopting in lockstep scientifically unprecedented, CCP-style social control measures. Their subservience and self-interest have finally caught up with the people, who are hostages in an ideological war between democracy and the new totalitarianism.
For China, the Cold War Never Ended
While the West deludes itself that the Cold War has been over since 1991, for the CCP, it never ended. Determined to reshape the international order in its image, China has deployed its vast economic wealth to subvert, coerce, and cajole policymakers and spread its tendrils of influence throughout the world.
U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray explains that China’s highly sophisticated and covert foreign influence involves targeting individuals close to an official, then leveraging that co-opted middleman to “whisper in the official’s ear” and help sway policy. Often these intermediaries are unaware they’re being used as CCP pawns. Crucially, Wray even references reports by American officials that “Chinese diplomats are aggressively urging support of China’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.”
In 2019, the recently retired director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) outlined the implications for Australia. He warned that the Chinese government’s foreign interference operations pose an “existential threat” to Australia’s political system and that the impact might not be apparent until it’s too late. Lewis wrote in ASIO’s 2018 annual report that foreign actors were “attempting to clandestinely influence” the opinions of government officials, the public, media, and diaspora communities.
Also that year, federal member of the House of Representatives Andrew Hastie told Parliament that “Marxist-Leninist authoritarian regimes are conducting espionage and foreign interference against Western liberal democracies … on an unprecedented scale.” The legislation he referred to was the result of a classified report prepared by prime ministerial advisor John Garnaut, who later described Australia as “the canary in the coal mine of CCP interference.” According to Professor Clive Hamilton, author of “Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia,” China has carefully groomed Australia’s elites to view the world through a CCP lens.
Grooming Western Elites to Obey Chinese Orders
The quagmire is wide and murky. One of the most infamous cases is the downfall of Senator Sam Dastyari. His billionaire benefactor Huang Xiangmo, former chair of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC), an organization linked to the United Front Work Department, was found by ASIO to be a covert agent of Chinese government influence. Dastyari was forced to resign in 2017 following an expense and donations scandal, an extraordinary pro-CCP contradiction of his party’s official position on the South China Sea, and revelations he had warned Huang he was under surveillance.
Huang also donated to former Trade Minister Andrew Robb while he was negotiating the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and reportedly provided Robb informal advice about the deal. After leaving office, Robb accepted an $880,000 consultancy gig with a firm whose billionaire owner is a member of the CCP-created Chinese People’s Consultative Committee, a United Front advisory body. Robb was subsequently engaged by the Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative (ACBRI), a group set up by Beijing to promote Xi Jinping’s strategically pivotal intercontinental infrastructure scheme.