Last month, I came across a post written by Andrew Hastie, the Chair of Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The post features a Sydney Morning Herald article about a Chinese merchant, who is the head of the Hubei Association of Australia, making bulk purchases of personal protective equipment and air mailing 82 tons of goods to China.
The post drew countless outraged comments and was shared by the thousands. Soon enough, the young veteran investigative reporter Nick McKenzie made an in-depth report about the background of this merchant, and without doubt, the merchant became the controversial topic of Australian people, throwing countless Chinese into the limelight.
It is true that merchants would do everything for their businesses. Especially for those brilliant Chinese merchants, money usually overrides their sense of morality. However, profits made by 82 tons of epidemic prevention products hardly meant anything for a merchant who owns a real estate business empire. The question is why would this incident cause such a “fuss” among Australia’s decision makers?
Of course, the answer lies within the issue of epidemic prevention. After Wuhan’s new coronavirus outbreak spread throughout the globe, Australia locked its door to China, following in the footsteps of the U.S. The implementation stirred cynicism from some within the Chinese community as well as senior officers at the Chinese Embassy. On one hand, they are blasting Australia for this “overreaction,” on the other, they are secretly instructing these merchants to demonstrate their love for the motherland by making bulk purchases of personal protective equipment and shipping them to China.
For now, the epidemic in China has become relatively stable, but these invisible killers are still massacring the U.S. As death numbers increased rapidly, Australia has had no choice but to anxiously apply a lockdown on itself. The problem is, it soon realized that there are no epidemic prevention products on the market. Not only protective suits, but masks and sanitizers had become rare items. Under these circumstances, the narrative implicated the Chinese community for making trouble for Australia.
No matter how many excuses the Chinese have, the reality is that when faced with life and death, in the eyes of wider Australian society, the Chinese are the ones who brought this virus into the country; now, they have even taken away stocks of prevention products. Not only are the Chinese unable to treat Australia as their adopted country, but are they trying to push all of Australia to the edge?
Luckily, the spread of the virus in Australia is slow. The Australian government invested huge funds to save the nation economically and asked everyone to obey the new distancing rules. Every hospital has extra empty beds in preparation to combat the next possible wave of the epidemic.
As a member of the Australian community, shouldn’t Chinese-Australians give more thought for Australia? We live in this country and everything that happens on this land is closely related to us. While we enjoy the social welfare of Australia and freedom under the blue sky and white clouds, if our hearts are still with “Mother Party” and “Daddy Xi,” how can we earn the respect of other Australians?
If we perceive Chinese-Australians’ bulk buying of milk formula as a loss of face, then the current bulk shipping of medical supplies — an organized collective action under the Chinese Consulate, of which the Australian media seems to have much evidence – will be seen as endangering the Australian society. Imagine if Australia loses control of the epidemic like Europe and America, topped with the lack of personal protective equipment, can Chinese-Australians escape public criticism?
The Chinese authorities concealed the epidemic from the onset and encouraged foreign governments to lower their vigilance. The result was disastrous. The cynical stance demonstrated by many Australian Chinese media with catchphrases such as “Hang on China” and “Damn the U.S.” is quite worrisome.
The Chinese merchant who made the bulk purchase prompted the Australian government to set a new regulation to stop the export of Australian medical resources. This is not something to be proud of.
History tells us that Europe and America have always been the leading empires of global civilization. Although their interests continue to conflict on the point of economic development, they always demonstrate firm alliance when their regions and people are facing a life-death situation. They would rather have the economy fall back for years than fail to give the deceased an explanation.
While combating this pandemic, countries are coming together, respecting each other, and not differentiating as allies or foes. However, once the pandemic is over, in the interest of the economy, will Western nations so easily forget these enmities with China, the initiator, when facing piles of corpses? Who can stop an onslaught of vengeance?
While the virus outbreak rages throughout the globe, the Chinese authorities continue their arrogance and impudence. They have never thought to leave themselves a fallback but rather fearlessly try to challenge the bottom line of the civilized world, adding fuel to the fire. No anti-Chinese incidents in history have ever been caused by the Chinese themselves. They are all caused by overseas Chinese who insist on aligning with the Chinese Communist Party.
Many Chinese tend to bark up the wrong tree. They love to cry out: “anti-Chinese” and “discrimination.” Unfortunately, times have changed. During this disaster, “anti-Chinese” and “racism” toward Chinese may form a trend that will be deeply rooted in the minds of the wider Western public. As Chinese immigrants who hold Australian citizenship, why should we still do the dirty laundry for the government of our “mother country”?
To all Chinese: Keep yourselves away from the blazing fire.
Op-ed by Yan Xia, the chief editor of Vision China Times, an independent Chinese language media in Australia.