Chinese social media spreads former Liberals’ criticism of Coalition and Defence Minister Dutton

Chinese social media spreads former Liberals’ criticism of Coalition and Defence Minister Dutton

Comments critical of the Morrison government’s stance on China made by Helen Sham-Ho, a prominent member of the Sydney Chinese community, are circulating on one of China’s most popular social media platforms.

In a recent interview with ABC iMedia, a Sydney-based media outlet that is unrelated to Australia’s national broadcaster, Ms Sham-Ho said there had been “years of constant demonising” of China by the Coalition government. 

The former News South Wales Liberal MLC also blasted the Defence Minister for “trying to stir them up to have a war”.

The video interview was posted on the Yuanfluencers WeChat channel, where it has been shared more than 13,100 times and recorded 1,200 likes, dwarfing the volume of the next most popular post, an interview with Kingsley Liu of the Australian Citizens’ Party, which recorded 573 shares and 148 likes. 

WeChat is a Chinese-language messaging, social and payment app with more than a billion monthly users.

Ms Sham-Ho is a Hong Kong-born lawyer and social worker who was elected to the New South Wales parliament for the Liberal Party in 1988. 

She resigned from the party in 1998 and sat as an independent until her time in parliament ended in 2003 and was the Chinese Australia to be elected to an Australian parliament. 

“I don't understand it when the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are saying China is bad, Chinese are aggressive,” she said in her English-language interview with ABC iMedia.

“The federal government, in my mind, is not doing the right thing by the Chinese community.” 

She also said she was “stunned” to hear Defence Minister Peter Dutton say Australia should prepare for war with China. 

When asked who she would be voting for, she said she would “have to choose what is beneficial to Australia” and added that Chinese-Australian voters should “think about what is for your own benefit and the benefit of the country“.

Tapping into Chinese language election chat

Screenschots of the WeChat account, showing a number of thumbnail images.

The interview has been uploaded to YouTube in recent days, along with others conducted by ABC iMedia

Other candidates featured in interviews are Australian Citizens Part Senate candidate Kingsley Liu and Fuxin Li, who the ABC has linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department

The iMedia outlet has also interviewed politicians such as Greens Leader Adam Bandt, Liberal senator Andrew Bragg and Labor MP Mark Dreyfus.

#wrongasian - how race played out on Chinese social media

Screenshots of a post on WeChat including comments using Chinese characters

A video of an interview with MP Fiona Martin from the electorate of Reid and the Labor candidate for the seat, Sally Sitou, in which Ms Martin appeared to mistake Ms Sitou for another candidate, Tu Le, was also featured on Yuanfuencer’s channel. 

This generated 1,600 shares and more than 400 comments. Here’s a sample of some of the comments the video generated; 

Nageshimeiyouyong: "She (Sally) is Asian, but she's Australian now, and she loves Australia." (648 likes)

Cixinyouran: "She's not Chinese, she loves Australia, what's the point of the video?" (499 likes)

Chencujiakafei: "For Westerners, the Chinese will never integrate into the Western world, that is the democracy they said to deceive people." (203 likes)

The video triggered the #wrongasian hashtag to trend, while searches for Sally Sitou spiked on Google. The South China Morning Post also covered the story, sharing it to its more than 2.5 million Facebook followers. 

Posts are identifiable by their IP address, as has recently been mandated on Chinese social media and Australian-based comments can be identified.

19 May 2022


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