One of Vision China Times’ advertisers was an Australian-based migration service that had an office in Beijing. Given that Vision China Times is one of the few Chinese language media in Australia that doesn’t print Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda, the advertiser’s office in China’s capital city got a visit from Chinese security officials.
“The China Ministry of State Security went to his office and asked him to stop advertising in our newspaper,” said Don Ma, who owns our sister publication Vision China Times (aka Kanzhongguo), in a ABC interview recently aired in Australia.
Initially, the advertiser refused the demand, but the Chinese security officials ramped up the pressure.
“Then the Ministry of State Security stayed in their office for two weeks disrupting the normal operation of their business,” said Ma. “So in the end, their boss said there is nothing they could do but to stop the advertisement.”
The above was one of the examples of Beijing interference in Australia as featured in a series of special investigation reports by Fairfax Media and ABC’s Four Corners.
One way Chinese officials would attack his publication was through scaring off advertisers, such as the Australian-based migration service.
In total, 10 of his clients have pulled advertising because of threats from Chinese officials. A similar case came to light involving tech giant Apple, which would not allow its products to feature in any telecommunication adverts in Vision China Times allegedly due to pressure.
The ABC report also said that Ma had endured a campaign of slander from pro-Beijing supporters in the local Chinese community.
Despite this, Ma keeps publishing.
“Because I love Australia, and I want to do something in return for Australian society,” said Ma who is blocked from visiting China.
“I felt that the media here, almost all the Chinese media, was being controlled by overseas forces,” he said.
Ma also gets support from members of the disparate Chinese community who want a media that does not publish CCP propaganda that he sees as harmful to Australian society.
“It is also harmful to the next generation of Chinese,” said Ma. “Therefore, I felt I wanted to invest in a truly independent media that fits in with Australian values.”
Established in 2001, Vision Times China is now published in 17 countries. As well as Chinese and English, it is published in Spanish and German.
— Lisa Main??? (@themainlisa) June 5, 2017
The ABC-Fairfax reports also investigated other Chinese language media with proven links to Chinese propaganda bodies.
They also found that such China state-aligned media not only printed communist propaganda, but were involved in organizing pro-Beijing events, such as a public demonstration in Melbourne that supported Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.
How Beijing tries to control Australia’s Chinese language was just one aspect of the ABC-Fairfax investigation.
Their 5-month-long investigation included how the CCP directs Chinese student associations and community groups, threatens Australian-based Chinese dissidents, seeks to influence academic inquiry, and co-opts and entices Australian political leaders through cash.
The ABC-Fairfax investigations have had such an effect they have prompted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to order a major inquiry into the nation’s espionage and foreign interference laws.
Watch this episode of China Uncensored to see what Chinese Communist Party propaganda you might be watching: