The Friday 26 June ASIO raids conducted against the homes of NSW parliamentarian Shaoquett Moselmane and his staffer John Zhang are the first to be carried out under the ‘foreign interference’ laws introduced in June 2018, ostensibly intended to prevent foreign governments from influencing our political affairs in ways detrimental to Australia’s national interest. The raids were carried out to find evidence of illegal foreign interference, which if found, could then be cited to justify the raids in the first place. Initially it was believed that both men were suspects, but Moselmane has recently gone public, declaring that he is “not a suspect” in this investigation.
Why the fear mongering about Moselmane & Zhang?
Regarding Moselmane, he travelled to China multiple times, and praised the way China handled the Coronavirus outbreak (an opinion shared by the World Health Organisation), which he contrasted with the “baffling and confused messaging by the Morrison federal government”. Correct and uncontroversial. Moving on.
On 6 April, SMH reporter Nick McKenzie alleged that Moselmane stated the following: “Today, the obsolete scum of ‘white Australia’ is once again flooding, and the theory of yellow fever has once again surfaced.” The implication here is that Moselmane is referring to ‘white’ people as scum, however, according to Moselmane (who released a pamphlet about the accusations levelled at him), “this is a deliberate, mischievous mistranslation”, rather, what he actually said to the Chinese media outlet that interviewed him was: “It’s the old white Australia fear of the ‘yellow peril’ resurfacing.”
Where did McKenzie get this translation from? We do not know for sure, but according to Moselmane, “I went to Professor Jing Han, Professor of Translation and Interpreting Studies, Western Sydney University [who] confirmed that the McKenzie translation is ‘taken directly from Google translation of the Chinese text … For professional standards, Google translations cannot be used as accurate translation without being post-edited by qualified translators.’”
If McKenzie did use Google translate, was it because of inadequate training as a journalist, or because he believed the quote would look worse than its original intended meaning?
Global Times, a Chinese outlet, offered the following translation: “The dregs of White Australianism from the past are resurfacing to bring about a resurgence of the Yellow Peril mythology.” Ironically, the backlash against Moselmane, based on the incompetent mistranslation printed again by the SMH, on the day of the raid, only vindicates the original intent behind Moselmane’s statement.
Regarding Mr. Zhang, apparently in 2013 he attended a training course in China managed by the ‘United Front Work Department’ (UFWD), which one article alleges was established to “increase the CCP’s influence in foreign political systems by employing legitimate means as well as covert, coercive methods”, the latter (in italics) being “outlawed under Australian counter-foreign interference laws”. How do the authors know that the UFWD employs methods that are “coercive”? Fortunately for them, ‘quiet Australians’ don’t ask questions.
According to the mentioned pamphlet, on 1 April, Peta Credlin spoke of Moselmane’s “connections to former staff of the Chinese communist party”, which according to the statement issued by Moselmane, is completely false, “Peta Credlin is engaged in pure McCarthyism. On the basis that somebody is of Chinese background, she is alleging membership of the Chinese Communist Party, creating a vicious precedent that threatens more than one million Australians of Chinese heritage.” Indeed, Zhang has been “an Australian citizen for over 30 years and has never been a member of the Chinese Communist Party” the pamphlet reads.
On 2 April, 2GB Radio presenter Ray Hadley assumed Moselmane’s guilt, and even brought up the topic of the death penalty as punishment for treason. “The bloke should be banned from parliament…banned from Australian citizenship. This untrustworthy traitor in the party”. Referring to Moselmane as a, “person bringing treason into the parliament” he reminded his audience that treason is “the most serious offence one can commit against a government and can be punishable in some cases by death”. All this hatred against someone who hasn’t even been charged with a crime.
The next day Hadley alleged Moselmane had, “attacked the Jewish faith” (an allegation for which there is no evidence), which is ironic given Hadley is here accusing a man of Semitic ancestry of being subservient to a foreign state, that too when there’s no evidence or charges! Australia’s answer to the Dreyfus affair!
Two days after the 26 June raids, the most recent segment on 60 Minutes by Nick McKenzie regarding Moselmane & Zhang starts with potential slander, “it’s not a crime to like China, but when you’re an Australian politician and you’re so overwhelmingly loyal to Beijing’s Communist regime, it’s inevitable questions will be asked”. Accusing an elected politician of being “loyal” to a foreign state is serious and potentially self-incriminating if there is no evidence. Indeed, according to Moselmane’s recent press conference, “I am not a suspect in this investigation”.
What else? McKenzie points out that, “in the last decade [Moselmane] has visited China more than ten times, and some of his expenses there have been picked up by officials”, before turning to an analyst from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Alex Joske, who argued hypothetically that, “if it turns out that [Moselmane] has been working on behalf of a foreign government then he absolutely should not be representing the people of NSW”.
The segment later plays a clip of John Zhang, Moselmane’s staffer stating, “we wish [for the] Australian Government [to] have a balanced foreign policy, our international positions and our national interests are not exactly the same as our allies” (emphasis added, see 8:42). With the assistance of scary theme music suggestively portraying Zhang as a dangerous foreign agent, the audience is emotionally blackmailed into ignoring Zhang’s point, which is that our “national interests” are indeed not the same as those of our “allies”. Additionally, conflating the two would mean adopting the mindset of our “allies”, rather than our own independent “interests”.
In other words: ‘Australian man advocates for an independent Australia’.
Given the suspicion raising about Moselmane’s trips to China, it is ironic that Joske’s own organisation conducted a study asking the question, “Who funds Federal Parliamentarians’ overseas travel?” in their title. Their conclusion? The top three destinations are 1) Israel, 2) China, and 3) the United States, and the “largest sponsor of all non-Australian Government funded trips for federal parliamentarians was AIJAC” – the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
This information is useful for explaining the geopolitical context for these raids. The global situation has created the conditions for competition between the US & China over Australia, in which the US is the largest foreign owner of capital, concentrated in the extraction of Australian primary commodities, whereas our relationship with China primarily revolves around selling those commodities in exchange for high value added goods like smartphones, laptops and TVs. China is on the rise, while the United States is an empire in decline, trying to drag Australia into war.
According to Ray Hadley, “we are on war footing at the moment” (see pamphlet), which although not literally true, nonetheless raises the question, does Hadley want Australia to be dragged into an aggressive war? If so, is he serving the interests of a foreign state? Nothing wrong in asking questions.
This leaves Israel as the top destination for Federal MPs, a state that does negligible trade with Australia, so what do they want from us? Essentially for Australia to take a hostile stance towards those nations with which it has disputes, even if doing so means criminalising and alienating Australians with ancestry from those nations, and dragging us into costly wars abroad with those nations.