It Is So Difficult to be China's Friends in Australia Today
--Speech by Minister Wang Xining in 2021 ACBC ACT Chinese New Year Dinner
2021/03/01

It is my pleasure to meet old friends from ACBC ACT again in such a warm atmosphere. According to China’s custom, before the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th of January of the lunar year, it is still in Chinese new year holidays. So it is not too late to greet the new year and I wish everybody a very auspicious year of Ox with good health and success in career.

Last year, we were not able to reach out to people and our friends because of the quarantine requirements, but that does not hinder our friendship. Today I would like to talk about friendship, because friendship is much more treasured in hard time like what we experienced last year when almost everybody, every family and every business was under the impact of Covid-19. As friends, we help each other, support each other and sail through difficult time together, which makes the friendship stronger. I would like to commend and thank everybody for your contribution to the friendship and our relationship between Beijing and ACT, between Australia and China, particularly in the fields of business, people to people exchange and education.

With arduous efforts, both the China and Australia, manage the contain of the spread of the pandemic successfully. Amazing job has been done by medical workers and other administrations of both sides. China has managed to resume the production at early stage and was the only major economy that achieved positive economic growth in term of GDP last year. The growth rate was 2.3%. So friendship worked last year.

But it seems to me that it is becoming more difficult for our friends to remain China’s friends in Australia today. At the beginning of the pandemic, many China’s friends in Australia, particularly those in ACBC, helped us to locate and purchase certain PPE resources because China was in an urgent need back then in January and February. The Chinese Embassy and our Consulates in other cities received countless messages of support, sympathy and encouragement from people we know or we don’t know. We put them on our Facebook and hope the local media and national media would help us to spread them around to show how friendship works between China and Australia, but sadly, there was nothing on the major media outlets. To our disappointment, what the media cared and focused was the so-called hoarding of PPE by China related companies which led to certain shortage of PPE at that time. These claims ran rampant at certain time. However, it finally turned out all these claims were not true, and some of the reports amounts to libeling and were brought to lawsuit for defamation. But the damage has been done, the image of China’s friends in Australia was severely harmed and smeared.

By the end of last March, there were serious Covid-19 cases in Australia. Many Australian companies, some of them ACBC members, started to look for PPE from China. Luckily, all the PPE producers in China resumed production in full swing, so the producers in China, the Chinese government, both central and local, the Chinese Embassy and the Consulates, offered a lot help to Australian companies to find and purchase PPE from China. I heard quite a lot of stories and some of them are quite moving.

There are also supporting and encouraging messages from Chinese people to Australian people. Similarly, we put those messages on our Facebook, But again, none of the major media outlets paid attention to these friendly messages. To our disappointment again, what the big news at that time was the appearance of my colleague, Chinese Consul-general Long Zhou in Melbourne, who was invited to a joint press conference. Mr. Long made a speech showing our government's and our people’s support to Australia and Australian people in fighting against the covid-19. But look at the major news media, their reports were fulled of the hostility to and denigration of Mr. Long and the organizers of the press conference. Those who fought on the front-line against the Covid-19 must understand how important these PPE are. But once again, China was hurt. The enthusiasm of our friends in Australia was chilled.

After so many years, between China and Australia, there is a multi-layered, multi-sector, cross-board structure of collaboration, which has brought substantial and fruitful benefits to both sides and also provided potential for sustainable development to both China and Australia. In face of the impact of Covid-19 on our economy and people’s lives, the best strategy is to strengthen and step up our collaboration. But last year, the collaboration in various fields was under a series of suspicions from a small number of people. The excuse for such suspicion is China’s threats to Australian sovereignty and security, which is totally ridiculous. Because up to today no one single case has been substantiated or supported by evidence. It appears to me those who claimed for these fabricated arguments do not want to be Chinese friends. And based on my observation, most of those people are siphoning off Australia’s financial coffer, and they squander on the cornucopia which is the hard-won product of the majority of Australian labor force. They abused the power in their hands to strike hard on China’s friends in Australia, who were working so hard to enhance Australia’s economic power, improve people’s living standard, and store potential for future development. When these people were barking loud, our friends had to bite the bullet.

Most of you have been travelling to China, some of you have decades-long engagement with Chinese partners. You witness the change and evolution of China and respect China’s cultural heritage and way of life. Maybe you don’t fully agree with our model of governance and administration, but at least you respect and understand the reason behind our development path and model of governance. I think you are as bewildered as I am that the impression of China is so different between what you get in Australia and in China. Recently I watched a video on YouTube, there is an Australian uncle Jerry Grey, he and his wife went on a bicycle ride in Xinjiang. After he came back, he told his friends about what he saw and experienced in Xinjiang, and few people would believe in him. Recently, I felt so pitiful about Mr. Dominic Dwyer, who was an expert in WHO team to China. He was misquoted, so he gave an extensive interview on The Conversation, but only the Guardian carried the report. The Murdoch's News Corporation, who claimed that the virus must leak from a biological institute from Wuhan, said nothing about Mr. Dwyer’s interview and his impression about this trip. One Colombo Plan participant told me that his one year stay in Shanghai was a life-changing experience. But so many people in Australia, unlike you, haven’t gotten the opportunity to visit China. If these people are immersed by those negative portraits of China by the major media outlets and brainwashed by the vulgarized and simplified political slogans, how would they understand China and agree with your assessment and impression of China. We have a saying that goes, those who wrong people know better than the victims how wronged they are, and I believe those who vilified China know better than the Chinese people why they vilify China. Currently, the friends of China are given a nickname “panda-hugger”. It used to be a word of appreciation but now it carries derogatory meanings. It seems that being friendly to China, to be a friend of China becomes a sin and mistake in Australia. While, to take a stern face against Chinese would be the legislate stance by a patriotic Australian. Only in that way could the Australian politician win the heart of Australian population. Today, it is really difficult to be China’s friend in Australia.

In China, we have a saying that friendship would not be severed by mountains or seas. George Washington said that the true friendship is slow growing plant. I believe our friendship would not be diluted, would not be separated by distance or time. If you are in a difficult situation to be a China’s friend, don’t worry, your Chinese friends will stand together with you, your friends in China will always be with you. History will prove that it is wise and visionary to be China’s friends, and your children and grandchildren would be proud of you to be China’s friends and they will benefit from the relationship with China. Your Chinese friends and their children will also be proud and benefit from your friendship. For a better future and for the next generation, most people choose to make friends, but some people in Australia choose to make enemies to sustain a living. Those who deliberately vilify China and sabotage the friendship between our two countries and do damage to our long-term friendship and benefits out of their sectoral or selfish interest will be casted aside in history. Their children will be ashamed of mentioning their names in the history.

Briefly, friendship requires persistence, friendly people need to stay together and help each other. Your Chinese friends will work with you to enhance our mutual friendship and collaboration, breeze through this difficult time for the next spring of China-Australia friendship.

 

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-62283999, Fax: 0061-2-62283836
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
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