The Soul of the Chinese People

Comments at the launch of the Chinese-language edition of Silent Invasion
无声的入侵 Ashfield, Sydney, Sunday 2 June 2019

I thank Professor Feng Chongyi for his generous introduction and the Australian Values Alliance for organizing today’s launch. Welcome everyone.

Liu Xiaobo once wrote: “Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth.”

He was right, and that’s why the Chinese Communist Party fears freedom of expression. If people are free to speak out then they always demand their human rights. Beyond all cultures and politics, everyone wants justice. And yes, by depriving Chinese people of freedom of expression with its Orwellian system of censorship and punishment of dissident voices, the CCP is taking away their humanity.

The Party wants to do the same in Australia by intimidating those who criticize the Party and promoting its army of apologists. They repeatedly try to silence people like me with the accusation that we are driven by “anti-Chinese racism” and “Sinophobia”.

It’s the favourite tactic of the Party. There’s a kind of logic to it. It must always claim that criticism of the Party is criticism of the Chinese people. For them, the Party is the People; the two are one.

In Australia, all kinds of people echo this rhetoric to try to tarnish as racists people like me, and this book we are launching. One of them had an article recently in Foreign Policy, the influential US journal. Repeatedly using “we” as if he were speaking for all Chinese-Australians, to explain the state of Australia-China relations he dredged up Australia’s ugly history of anti-Chinese sentiment, referring to the Gold Rush days and the White Australia Policy.

I was reminded of the words of Hu Shih, the eminent Chinese philosopher and famous President of Peking University in the 1940s, who criticized the use of historical allusions, that is, comparing present events with historical antecedents when there is no meaningful analogy.

When Beijing commits a new hostile act, Communist Party media like the Global Times often dredge up the White Australia Policy as a way of stoking feelings of angry resentment, and turning attention back onto Australia. So any trouble between China and Australia is not due to Communist Party interference and intimidation; it’s due to Australian’s racist heart, even though, as it is often said, this country is the most successful multicultural society in the world.

When Silent Invasion was published early last year, a number of Chinese-Australians asked me when a Chinese-language version would be available. They told me that their father or aunt would like to read it but their English isn’t good enough.

For me, to see you all here today is enormously reassuring, and inspiring. Because to come here to help launch a book that has been denounced by Beijing is itself a form of resistance to the Communist Party. It sends a powerful message that there are many Chinese-Australians who reject the Communist Party because they are pro-free speech, pro-democracy and pro-Australian values.

And they stand against all of those supporters of the Party in Australia whose opinions are gleefully reproduced in CCP media like the People’s Daily and China Daily. You know who they are.

Publication of Silent Invasion in Chinese, and now today’s launch by a Chinese-Australian organization in a hall full of Chinese-Australians, is the definitive response to those who label the book, and those who agree with it, as “anti-Chinese” and “Sinophobic”.

Hu Shih once wrote that the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party is “un-Chinese”. I think if he were alive today he would be grieving not just at the way the Party has, over 70 years, indoctrinated so many minds and imprisoned so many bodies. He would grieve at how the Party has shattered the soul of the Chinese people.

We must remember that tyrannies never survive. The Party leaders know this better than anyone. That’s why they are so afraid, and preparing for the day by getting their money and often their families out of China.

And it explains why, 30 years ago, they so brutally suppressed the young patriotic Chinese students protesting in Tiananmen Square. They gathered to demand freedom and justice but their peaceful protest was met with tanks and guns. Yet they proved that despite 70 years of trying to imprison the soul of the Chinese people, the Party can never succeed completely.

One day it will break free, and the tyrants will have their day of judgement. Let us hope that day comes soon.


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