Open Letter to David Shoebridge MLC

18 March 2018

Dear David

As you know, I was disappointed when you cancelled the launch event for my book that you had enthusiastically agreed to host. I’m more disappointed to read the justification you have given for your actions in your recent Facebook post.

I would expect you, as a barrister, to take account of the evidence rather than relying on rumour and malicious opinion on social media. The evidence against the claims that the book is racist or encourages racism lies in the pages of the book, which you appear still not to have read. If you’d read it, you would see that its purpose is to defend Chinese-Australians whose democratic rights are being taken away by an authoritarian power. I consistently argue throughout the book that we in Australia should be doing more to protect Australian citizens of Chinese heritage.

Among similar statements of support, in the book I:

  • say there should be more Chinese-Australians in politics;
  • acknowledge Australia’s dark history of anti-Chinese racism;
  • call for more recognition of the contribution of Chinese-Australians to this country’s military history;
  • say Chinese writers should receive more exposure;
  • write that it’s unfair for Chinese-Australians to receive glares when they queue at the supermarket to buy infant formula, or turn up at an auction to buy a house; and
  • argue that Chinese-Australians are essential to any pushback against Beijing’s influence in Australia.

Above all, I stress over and over that the target of the book is the Chinese Communist Party and not Chinese people or China itself. I devote a whole section of the book to explaining why the Communist Party must make out that any attack on the Party is “anti-China” and “anti-Chinese”, and how we must avoid falling into its trap. It seems you have. You really should read the book.

If you do, you would see that at the very outset I write of the diversity of the Chinese-Australian community and criticise those who tar all Australians of Chinese heritage with same brush. I write that I expected to be accused of racism by some with an axe to grind, noting that it is a cheap accusation used as a silencing device effective because of our “quite proper” sensitivity to inflaming racial tensions. I expected this sensitivity to be exploited by those who want to distract us from the influence of the CCP.

What galled me most of all about your decision was that you were denying a platform to the Chinese-Australian pro-democracy advocates of the Australian Values Alliance, the organisers of the event. These people have for years been silenced, both by a vigorous and often ruthless campaign by the Chinese Communist Party and by the Australian political mainstream, because their voices tell an inconvenient truth about how Australia’s elites have been won over by China-sourced money.

I was shocked that a Greens MP should actively join in this silencing process. I joined the Greens in part because it is the party that gives voice to oppressed people. After Justin Field decided that he would not be intimidated, and the event went ahead, the Macquarie Room at Parliament House was packed with an enthusiastic and grateful audience consisting overwhelmingly of Chinese-Australians. With speakers John Hu, Feng Chongyi and Albert Fan praising Silent Invasion, no honest person in attendance could claim that the book launched there was in any way Sinophobic or racist.

The evidence amassed in the book shows up the NSW Labor Party in a very poor light. There appears to have been an orchestrated campaign by people associated with Right of NSW Labor to damage my reputation by claiming the book is racist, Sinophobic and so on. Carr, Keating, Rudd and Graham Richardson have all come after me in public.

Tim Soutphommasane, a long-time Labor Party member who has worked for Rudd and Carr and whose opinions you say you rely on, has also played the dirty card of “racism”, in exactly the same way that the Chinese Embassy in Canberra and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing have done.

As a NSW Greens MP, you more than most ought to understand the problem of dark money in NSW politics and should be highlighting the close links between wealthy Chinese and Chinese-Australian businessmen and the NSW Right. The downfall of Sam Dastyari is not the last of it by any means. Instead, you have amplified in the Greens the campaign of the NSW Right to trash my book.

In your post you say that you changed your mind about hosting the book launch because you “listened to the members of the party” with Chinese ancestry. Really? What about the party members of Chinese-heritage who are pro-democracy activists, Tibet autonomy supporters or Falun Gong practitioners, or whose families have been persecuted by the CCP? You seem to have paid no attention to their “life experience [that] makes them a far better judge of the impact of my actions”. If you decide to read Silent Invasion, you will find their voices reflected in it.

In fact, the backlash against you hosting the book launch seems to have been led by social media activist Erin Chew, a long-serving Labor Party member now residing in the United States. Do you know her? She claimed success on Twitter when you pulled out and, after Justin Field agreed to host the event, she welcomed how the Greens has been split.

I have admired your previous work on exposing the horrors visited on Falun Gong practitioners in China, not to mention the malicious campaign by Beijing against them in Australia. So it saddens me to see you caving in to a nasty little social media campaign aimed at suppressing a book that all Greens should read if they want to know about the corruption of power in this country, and nowhere more so than in the building where you have your office.

Yours sincerely

Clive Hamilton


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