Australia’s raid on Chinese journalists shows ugly duplicity on press rights
By Sima Ming
Global Times

China Australia Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The Australian intelligence agency staff raided the homes of Chinese journalists, questioned them for several hours and detained their computers and mobile phones, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. The Chinese journalists were required to keep secrets about this forced search and interrogation.

The groundless search has outrageously infringed on the legitimate rights of Chinese journalists and media institutions. Australia has severely disrupted normal China-Australia cultural exchanges and poisoned bilateral relations by these egregious actions. This is a serious political issue.

Australia has always boasted about its so-called freedom of the press. If this is really the case, then Australia should have respected journalists and protected their reporting rights. But the reality is quite different. Australia has torn off its hypocritical veil, revealing its true face.

On October 21, 2019, mainstream Australian newspapers blacked out text on their front pages in a coordinated protest against the country's press restrictions, puncturing the hypocrisy of so-called freedom of the press.

On June 5, 2019, Australian police raided the headquarters of the country's national broadcaster ABC, claiming it had published classified information about Australian special forces' alleged abuses in Afghanistan. Also, a reporter of the Sunday Telegraph of Sydney had her home raided by the authorities in June 2019 after reporting on a government plan to expand surveillance on Australian citizens. The incidents triggered a collective protest by Australian journalists.

It is reported that in the past two decades, Australia has passed over 60 pieces of legislation in a bid to tighten the freedoms of press. Whatever the Australian government intends to cover up, its hypocrisy cannot hide the double standards toward freedom of the press. When they spread fake news via media outlets in an attempt to smear or attack other countries, they label such moves "freedom of the press." But when some media outlets report the truth which they are reluctant to see, they resort to political crackdowns.

Nonetheless, Australian authorities have not been satisfied with manipulating merely domestic media outlets. Regardless of the basic norms governing international relations and bilateral ties between China and Australian, they have raided the residences of Chinese journalists based in Australia. This is a result of ideological bias, as well as moves following the US, which has adopted a hard-line policy against China under the Trump administration.

Australia's despicable political calculation - intending to impose trumped-up charges on the Chinese media outlets - will turn out to be in vain. Chinese Australia-based reporters strictly abide by all kinds of rules and regulations set by the Australian government and have qualified professional ethics. Like Australia-based journalists from other countries, Chinese journalists report based on the statements of interviewees, public information and resources. They have not interfered in Australia's internal affairs nor are they undermining its national security.

Some people in Australia have been preaching the "China infiltration theory" without any concrete evidence. As a member of the Five Eyes alliance, Australia willfully steals other countries' information and data, undermining other countries' sovereignty and security. Now, by playing the victim, Australia has no fear to showing its despicable face.

If Australia does not reflect critically and instead continues to indulge in the game with anti-China exclusion, it will ultimately drive itself to do things against its own conscience.

The brutal and barbaric acts of the Australian authorities against journalists are incompatible with and contrary to the freedom of the press. It's like the ghost of McCarthyism is coming back from the grave. The anti-China forces in Australia should put down their discriminatory ways and show their courage to dissolve the knot in their hearts. To do that, they should never lose conscience. They need to always measure with an objective mind whether or not their actions will bring about bad consequences for others and for themselves.

If the Australian side is obstinately determined to take the anti-China road, then we can only advise them that their evil doings will blowback to burn themselves. The "white terror" created by Australia cannot suppress China's noble and righteous spirit. Nor can its chilling effect block voices of justice from the insightful people of the international community.

The author is an observer of international affairs.