What China Says

Now more than ever it is important that Australians understand the diverse perspectives within the People's Republic of China. 'What China Says' points out articles from China’s state media and sources close to the PRC in both Chinese and English as well as Chinese-language media outlets in Australia to draw attention to Chinese positions on a range of issues.

What does China say about...

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Pacific Aid

Xinhua News Agency, 15 January 2018

This article published by Xinhua News Agency discusses the statements made by an Australian official on the PRC’s aid to Pacific island countries. During a regular press conference, PRC Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang rebuffed claims that the PRC’s aid to island nations increased their financial burden. 

“There is a problem with the mentality of the people making these remarks” said Lu. During the press conference, Lu stated that the PRC has provided assistance to island countries to promote economic and social development without any political interference.   

The article highlights the successful completion of two projects supported by the PRC Government in Fiji. Lu added that the completion of Stinson Bridge and Waitu Waka Bridge will greatly improve local transportation and increase the quality of life. 

The writer further suggests that these two projects are a part of many grants provided to the Pacific island countries by the PRC government. The writer believes that these projects are widely welcomed by local governments and its citizens.  

Read the original article in Chinese: ‘外交部评澳官员言论:心态有问题’ (Foreign ministry discusses Australian Officials’ comments: There is a problem with that mentality)

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China France relations

环球时报, 10 January 2018

This editorial published in the Global Times (环球时报) comments on French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to the PRC. It presents the China-France relationship as a catalyst to furthering and promoting economic cooperation between the PRC and the European Union.

The author asserts that China-France cooperation should be based on “what can be achieved”, not “how it should be”. One area of cooperation is over Frances’ high-tech industry.

The article argues that developed countries are protective of their high-tech capabilities, and that their unwillingness to export these technologies has impeded the scale of economic and trade cooperation with the PRC.

The article urges France to become a pioneer by opening up their attractive areas of trade to the PRC. The writer believes that Western countries must “untie the knot” in order to increase their initiative and reverse the trade imbalance with the PRC.

The article concludes, that if France can take the lead in understanding and embracing core Chinese beliefs such as “win-win cooperation” and the “community of common destiny”, then “it will surely surpass the entire Western world”.

Read the original editorial in Chinese: 加强中法合作,法国大有可为 [France has bright prospects in strengthening China-France cooperation].

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Xinhua News Agency, 21 December 2017

This Xinhua News Agency report highlights the continued success of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), two years since the agreement entered into force on 20 December 2015. The removal of tariffs has strengthened trade and ChAFTA is “continuing to deliver great benefits to both nations” according to Trade Minister Steven Ciobo.

The positive results from the agreement will see further tariff reductions, with the fourth round of ChAFTA tariff cuts coming into effect on 1 January 2018. The agreement ultimately seeks to continue tariff cuts “each year for Australia until they reach zero”.

Furthermore, the article suggests that not only will this benefit and boost Australian exporters and suppliers, it will improve the bilateral relationship. The author writes “further improving these elements of ChAFTA will benefit Australia and China and reflect the growing importance of services to both economies”.

Read the article: China-Australia FTA continues to benefit both: official

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Chinese students in Australia contribute to bilateral links

Xinhua News Agency, 20 December 2017

In this interview with Xinhua News Agency, Jan Adams, Australia’s ambassador to China, discusses the progress of bilateral relationships between China and Australia. Since 1972, diplomatic relations between the two countries have fostered “huge progress in the field of people-to-people exchanges”, said Ambassador Adams.

In particular, the ambassador focused on the importance of education as a facilitator of understanding between the two countries. Students from China form the largest proportion of overseas students in Australia. Ambassador Adams highlights the importance of these students in making “a huge contribution to China-Australia bilateral links”.

The growing number of Chinese students in Australia could create “a lot of understanding between the two countries” Ambassador Adams added. Besides the access to a world-class education, the ambassador cites Australia’s multicultural society, China-friendly environment, and close geographical location as major factors in attracting Chinese students.

[This article has since been removed from Xinhua as of 22/12/17].


Establishing a regional and global community

人民日报, 18 December 2017

This article published by the People’s Daily (人民日报) reinforces the PRC’s determination to build on cultural differences to achieve prosperity as a ‘community of common destiny’.

The article argues that many people believe that ‘when it comes to relations between states, interests are eternal, while friendship is only temporary’. However, at a deeper level, this can be seen as an opportunity to work beyond our differences to achieve prosperity. The article emphasises that ‘the path is still long to complete the great task of establishing a community of common destiny for all mankind’.

The author argues that a central part of the PRC’s vision is to develop and expand regional relationships to promote growth and economic prosperity. The article notes that Beijing has taken the initiative to construct regional infrastructure through the Belt and Road Initiative in order to foster linkages that extend across the world.

The article further emphasises the necessity for regional and international collaboration to enjoy peace, prosperity and growth as citizens of the world.

Read the original article: ‘路要去走才能开辟通途’ (Only the path we must tread can open up thoroughfares)

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PRC Firms in Australia

Global Times, 11 December 2017

The backlash from the PRC media over Australia’s new foreign interference laws has continued following remarks from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that sharply rejected Beijing’s retort. This article by the Global Times warns that the shift in Australia’s political attitude will be detrimental to PRC enterprises operating in Australia.

It projects the legislation as a precursor for deteriorating business conditions and urges PRC companies to ‘enhance their competitive competence’ and ‘prepare for possible changes in policy’.

The commentary warns of the reciprocal detriment of diminishing PRC business in Australia by reiterating Australia’s ‘dependence on economic and trade cooperation with China’.

Focusing specifically on the tourism sector, the piece states that many Chinese people would choose not to travel to Australia because of concerns they ‘may not be welcomed or get good service in the country’. Although it predicts these issues will not come to fruition for some time, it cites evidence of growing skepticism.

Read the original article: Firms warned over Australia tension

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Australia-China Relations

人民日报, 11 December 2017

This editorial published by the People’s Daily (人民日报) blames the Australian media and government for the declining state of the Australia-China relationship. It is published under the pen name ‘Zhong Sheng’ (钟声), a homophone for ‘Voice of China’ used to articulate the state media’s position on foreign policy issues.

The article accuses the Australian media of ‘maliciously slandering Chinese students, overseas Chinese, and ethnic-Chinese in Australia’. It accuses Australia’s media of overly ‘imaginative’ and incorrect coverage, and claims that ‘this type of hysterical paranoia has racist undertones and tarnishes Australia’s image as a multicultural society’.

It similarly criticises Australian politicians for being swayed by these media reports, leading to a mishandling of the bilateral relationship.

Importantly, the commentary attempts to draw a divide between the Australian-Chinese community – including students, overseas Chinese, and ethnically Chinese – and the Australian government and media.

The article concludes by advising the Australian government and media to ‘abandon political prejudice and bigotry’ and use only facts when handling the bilateral relationship. It claims this is the ‘only correct choice’ to protect the interests of both countries as well as the greater Asia-Pacific region.

Read the original editorial in Chinese: 澳方对华认知须从事实出发 [Australia’s perception of China must start with the facts]

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Australian Media coverage of the PRC

8 December 2017

This week, amidst allegations against Senator Sam Dastyari, and the government announcing proposed amendments to Australia’s treason, espionage and foreign influence laws, diplomatic tensions have heightened between Australia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The response by PRC government officials and state media has been very critical of this move, taking particular aim at the Australian media.

In a statement released on 5 December, the Embassy of the PRC in Australia condemned the “anti-China hysteria and paranoid [sic]”. The spokesperson castigated the Australian media for its “cold war mentality and ideological bias” surrounding recent reportage of Chinese international students and Chinese-Australian communities. Second, they were critical of politicians who towed this same line, compromising “mutual trust” between the two countries. Finally, the statement insisted on “mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in each other's internal affairs”, reflecting well-touted diplomatic rhetoric, reiterated frequently by senior officials, including Premier Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing reiterated its belief in “mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs”, before encouraging Australia “to abandon its prejudices and treat China in an objective and fair manner”.

Whilst many Australian news outlets have reported on these diplomatic statements, Chinese state media has lambasted the Australian media for generating a new wave of panic. PRC state tabloid, the Global Times (环球时报), provided a secondary portrayal of Australian reportage of the Chinese Embassy’s statement, once again criticising the paranoia and hysteria surrounding “spies” and “infiltration”.

In an incendiary cartoon, the Global Times criticised Australia for its alleged two-faced relations with China — on one hand generating paranoia regarding Chinese hacking and compromised cybersecurity, and on the other, relying heavily on trade with the PRC. The cartoon also portrayed a fickle-minded Australia, that would choose to side with the United States rather than engage more genuinely with the PRC.

China Daily released an editorial on Wednesday, urging Malcolm Turnbull not bow to “anti-China bias”, admitting that “the two countries do have differences, not least in their political systems, but that should not create undue friction”. Additionally, Sina News (新浪新闻中心) reported on the Embassy’s statement with a larger contextual coverage, highlighting the accusations against Dastyari; Turnbull’s dinner with Liu Xiaodong, a Chinese businessman and political donor; Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper; and Ambassador Cheng Jingye’s previous statements characterising Australia’s media as “sensationalist”.

(Compiled by China Matters intern, Noah Vaz)


Internet Freedom

Global Times, 3 December 2017

The editorial published by the Global Times (环球时报) emphasises the need for an “open mind” between the PRC and the West regarding their conflicting ideologies and systems on Internet freedom. The 4th World Internet Conference (WIC) was held in Wuzhen on December 3rd, which gathered various CEO’s and senior executives from major Internet companies in the US and the PRC with the aim of “building a community of common future in cyberspace”.

The author argues that Western mainstream media has shown prejudice and accused the PRC “of ranking low in Internet freedom”. However, the editorial highlights the fact that China’s Internet economy “is developing rapidly” with an increasingly optimistic outlook. Thus, the author stresses that the West must “wake up” and acknowledge that the PRC may “choose its own political system”, whilst exploring “relevant system and models”.

The article evidently demonstrates the difficulty present in coordinating ideologies towards Internet sovereignty and each country's demand towards the issue. Rather than merely “attaching a label to the complicated area”, the author suggests the West and the PRC should become more open minded towards each other.

Read the article: ‘Internet sovereignty not against opening up’

Jackson Kwok

Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper

28 November 2017

Jackson Kwok examines how the PRC's state-owned media reacted to Australia's latest foreign policy white paper.

Read 'What Does China Say About the Foreign Policy White Paper?


Military Drill in Djibouti

Global Times, 26 November 2017

This op-ed published by the Global Times outlines the responsibility and role of China’s military in “safeguarding Africa’s security and stability”. This is primarily due to the PRC’s economic ties with Africa as a whole, which requires protecting these important strategic shipping lanes from piracy and terrorism. As such, live-fire drills were conducted in Djibouti to validate the “capability of troops and their weapons”.

The author argues that these conducted drills are not necessarily shifting China’s defensive strategy. This is due to China’s military being directed under the UN framework with “high respect for sovereignty” of other nations, which contrasts to Western countries that support the “regime change of governments that don’t meet their demands”.

The article concludes that China is worthy of “support and less suspicion” as China has built a positive “image of neutrality” and become a “guardian of peace and stability” in this continent.

Read the article: ‘Military drill in Djibouti will not change China's defensive strategy’

People's Republic of China, People's Liberation Army (Navy) frigate PLA(N) Yueyang (FF 575) steams in formation with 42 other ships and submarines representing 15 international partner nations during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon Renfroe/Released)

Solution for the South China Sea

Global Times, 23 November 2017

The op-ed published in the Global Times (环球时报) argues that finding a solution to the South China Sea dispute can be achieved more efficiently ‘without the intervention of the US’ as ASEAN nations hope to work collaboratively with one another instead of ‘being directed by the US’.

The author, a scholar from the China Foreign Affairs University, suggests that the US has chosen to interfere in the South China Sea issue to ‘maintain its dominance in the Asia- Pacific region’. However, the influence that the US can impose is limited as nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines ‘have disregarded an offer made by the US to mediate’.

Despite the chairman of the ASEAN summit concluding that all members are determined to settle this dispute peacefully and ‘promote the implementation of the South China Sea Code of Conduct’, the author indicates it is undeniable that obstacles remain and the 'implementation and gradual promotion is still needed’.

Read the article: 'A regional solution needed for South China Sea'

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Foreign Worker exploitation in Australia

Xinhua News Agency, 21 November 2017

This article in Xinhua analyses the results of a survey regarding the underpayment of international students and foreign workers in Australia.

The study, undertaken by three reputable universities represented various statistics that showed the exploitation of many workers, including many who were being paid less than half of the legal minimum wage.

Xinhua points out that “Overall, students from Asian countries received lower wages on average than those from Europe or North America”, before proceeding to highlight the views of union and relevant legal requirements.

Beyond this, Xinhua highlights the reported 91 cases of employer passport confiscation, as well as 173 situations wherein international students or backpackers were forced to pay an upfront deposit of 750 US dollars to secure a job.

Xinhua supports the survey’s claim that these results reflected a “failure by governments and unions to address the scale of non-compliance” regarding employment law.

Read the article: ‘Temporary migrants systematically exploited by Australian employers: study’

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Australia's strategic outlook

环球时报, 16 November 2017

This article in The Global Times (环球时报) responds to the recent Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report “Australia's management of strategic risk in the new era.”

In light of the report’s recommendations that found China and Indonesia as rising powers and potential regional security risks, The Global Times positions this report in the midst of other ‘vilifying’ portrayals of China from Western media and think tanks.

Further, The Global Times provides an alternative geopolitical expert in the form Zhang Junjian from the Institute of Naval Military Academies to counter ASPI’s “Cold War mentality". They then cite an unnamed researcher to establish that China’s rise brought “more opportunities, not challenges”.

The Global Times states that ASPI’s report is not surprising given that they are funded by global arms dealers (Thor and Lockheed Martin). They finish the article by asserting that the Australian people should feel pessimistic were their government to use ASPI’s recommendations in forming foreign policy.

Read the original article in Chinese: 澳智库渲染安全环境加速恶化 将矛头再次对准中国 ['Australian think tank exaggerates that the security environment is deteriorating, once again takes aim at China']

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'Silent Invasion' of Australia

环球时报, 15 November 2017

This editorial in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times (环球时报) rebuffs accusations of PRC influence in Australia and New Zealand. It also examines Allen & Unwin’s decision not to publish Clive Hamilton’s book Silent Invasion for fear of a possible backlash from Beijing.

Any idea of a politically-backed invasion is rejected as ‘absurd’. Instead, the author argues that self-censorship is a ‘natural process’ given China’s increasing influence and economic power; publishers and other companies will be more attentive to not offend China for their own business interests.

The editorial also addresses concerns of PRC government infiltration via Chinese international students. The author flippantly remarks: ‘to organise them (Chinese international students) to implement a grand national political mission, China’s agencies would need to take a loan from ANZ to reimburse the expensive tuition fees of all those students.’

The article concludes that any international student would defend the reputation of their home country if it were slandered in a classroom abroad; and therefore Australia is being unfair to Chinese international students.

Read the original editorial in Chinese: 澳新个别学者找中国“碰瓷”有多可笑 ['How ridiculous that a few Australian and New Zealand scholars are looking to ‘scam’ China']

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Opening up capital markets

Xinhua News Agency, 6 November 2017

The article published by the Xinhua News Agency highlights the opportunity for China’s capital market to become open to the world as Wu Qing, chairman on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, states that  “favourable conditions have emerged”.

Xinhua reports on China’s favourable conditions emerging due to the fact that the Renminbi currency is stable, foreign exchange reserves are at a reasonable level, the Belt and Road Initiative is “gaining more and more responses” and the local stock exchange is “in good condition”, amongst other positive factors. As such, in recent years, China has been “stepping up efforts” to provide foreign investors “wider access into the domestic financial market” with initiatives such as The Shanghai- Hong Kong bond connect program.

However, Wu underlines that China’s “degree of market openness remains relatively low”. Further, he stresses the importance of recognising the potential for opening up in this sector as the “gross market value held by foreign investors takes up less than 2 percent of the total”. Thus, Wu states that creating better cooperation mechanisms and international exchange will undoubtedly “boost global presence”.

Read the original article: Conditions ripe for China to further open up capital market

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US-China Cooperation

China-US Focus, 2 November 2017

This article by Zhao Weibin, a researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, discusses the nuances of the bilateral relationship between China and US. Analysing the progression from Bush to Obama, and now to Trump, this article highlights the prudence of fostering positive diplomatic relationships.

Further, the author posits that China needs to actively respond to major American concerns, including issues of trade, the denuclearisation of the DPRK, countering global terrorism, and finally issues of cyber security. The article argues that the US can learn much from China’s governance in terms of disaster response, and fixing social inequalities. Additionally, Zhao states that China should assert its core concerns and assist on the non-negotiability of US arms sales to Taiwan.

In the latter half of the article, suggestions are made to improve bilateral relations. These include the strengthening of strategic communication, prevention and joint management of crisis situations, and generally achieving win-win results, rather than adversarial politics. Finally, compromise and cooperation are heralded as the central tenets of positive relations between these two countries.

Read the original opinion piece: Trump’s China Visit: A Basis for Coexistence

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South Korea & THAAD

新华社, 31 October 2017

In this commentary, Xinhua News Agency discusses the progress made towards healthy bilateral relations between South Korea and China. These relations were previously tense due to the proposed implementation of THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Aerial Defence) missile defence systems in South Korea, which Beijing claims compromises China's regional security.

Xinhua underscores that South Korea has become more considerate of China’s position, and has reassured its regional neighbour that they do not intend to interfere with Chinese security.

The article looks back at the positive relations between the incumbent South Korean government and China. Further, it highlights that there are mutual benefits in cooperation and exchange between the two nations, and a joint interest in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

However, whilst the article points to a consensus on the THAAD issue, it also notes that it is not fully resolved. This is to say, that China still opposes its implementation due to 'geopolitical and regional security patterns'. 

Read the original commentary: 妥处“萨德”问题,中韩关系才能向前看 ['Only when the THAAD issue is handled properly can China-ROK relations move forward']

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Xi-Trump Phone call

Global Times, 26 October 2017

This Global Times editorial presents progress in US-China relations, introducing it through the lens of a positive phone call between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump after the 19th Party Congress. The article reported that Trump was the first international leader to congratulate Xi on re-election as the CPC Central Committee General Secretary. Moreover, Trump reportedly expressed his enthusiasm towards his upcoming visit to strengthen bilateral ties.

The Global Times article then pivots to highlight a dissonance within “US elite groups”, like such as senior US officials and think-tanks and who have in recent weeks voiced concerns about the US-China relationship. The Global Times proceeded to posit that Chinese think-tanks are more aware of the “importance of protecting a friendly atmosphere among the citizens of both countries”, and hence did not widely disseminate such “pessimistic viewpoints”.

The overall tone indicates that other nations need not fear the rise of China, but remain “strategically rational” in the face of growing insecurities.

Read the original editorial: Xi-Trump phone call rings positive for bilateral ties