Rebel Chinese movement promotes ‘Australian values’
Australians were long accustomed to immigrants fitting in well with us. But that was when most of our immigrants came from the very similar cultures of Britain and Northern Europe. Only minor changes of expectations rendered such people completely compatible with traditional Australian practices.
More recent immigrant flows, however, have presented greater challenges of adjustment and we now know that people can come here and want to live here and yet have no respect for the foundation population of this society or their ways. And that ingratitude and disrespect can have serious behavioural consequences on occasions.
So it is heartening to read below of a group who have encountered a large cultural transition and arrived at a real appreciation of the wisdom and kindness of their generous hosts
A new "pro-Australia" movement, and a leader, have emerged out of controversies swirling around Australia’s Chinese community of almost a million people.
The new Embracing Australian Values Alliance is in most ways the antithesis of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China that has emerged as the common denominator between major Chinese donors to politicians and parties in Australia.
John Hu, founder of the alliance, which is being registered officially, said that recently publicised donors to Australian parties and politicians appeared to have two main aims.
"One is for personal gain. But often they show a communist way of thinking, that if for instance as a real estate developer you donate to the top person, whatever you want to do in Australia will be fine," Mr Hu said. "It doesn’t work that way … If, for instance, they bribe a mayor, she or he only has one vote in a meeting. "They don’t understand how democracy works."
The second thrust of donations, he said, was "to please people back in their old country. So they may donate on behalf of the Chinese government to influence Australian politics, to penetrate and control positions, for example, on the South China Sea — and some of the money may actually be coming from China. In China, business and government work extremely closely".
Some donate, he believed, "to get favours when they do business in China. A lot depend on wealth brought from China, or on their Chinese businesses to generate income to spend in Australia".
Mr Hu believes — from his experience on the Parramatta City Council "watching how they conduct business" — that many Chinese real estate developers are not making money in Australia.
The events that provoked members of the Chinese community to set up the new alliance were the concerts planned to celebrate Mao Zedong in Sydney and Melbourne town halls, in the days around the 40th anniversary of Mao’s death on Friday. They succeeded in forcing the cancellation of the concerts, as organisers and city councils feared the fallout from the conflict they were arousing.
Supporters are now meeting in Sydney to decide on the next steps for the alliance, which has attracted followers in Melbourne as well. There was strong agreement, Mr Hu said, that the cause required both long-term and broad-based efforts.
"The Chinese community is divided by their political opinions and many other matters but we believe if you live here, you should agree to the values of Australia — and if you don’t like this country’s values, and think constantly of another place as your country, then go back there," he said.
The values the alliance espouses are based on the government’s Australian value statement for immigrants. Mr Hu summarised them as freedom, democracy, equality and tolerance.
He stressed the alliance had no allegiance to any political party.