This week has seen one of the more nasty and ugly developments in Australian politics, and that is saying something. In a classic case of dog-whistle politics, a senator was accused of accepting donations from a Chinese businessman, which implied that his positive comments on China had been ‘bought’. ‘Manchurian candidate’ is the term bandied about, with both racist and anti-communist undertones. Then of course the university China research centres that offer a more positive view of China have been accused of similar tendencies. So what is going on here? Fear of geopolitical shifts? Somewhat. Lack of adequate political representation of the diversity in Australia? Again, true enough. But deeper down is the stoking of an old theme in Australian politics: the fear of the ‘yellow peril’, which was and is also a fear of communism (the weird thing about this is that most immigrants these days come from Asia). Add to this that the one who has been accused is an Australian of Iranian background and another layer is added. By comparison, the regular reporting on internal political matters, from within a political party, to the CIA is not regarded as a threat.

For what it is worth, when I am asked why I like coming to China (where I am now), I respond: I like the food, the culture, the history, the people, the chaotic excitement of the rapid changes everywhere around me, but above all the fact that the communist party is the government.

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