Chinese state media on Thursday derided the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance for daring to criticize China’s ugly crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, spraying extra venom at Australia, which the state-run Global Times sneeringly dismissed as a “vassal of the U.S.”
The Five Eyes alliance — the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — issued a joint statement on Wednesday expressing “serious concern regarding China’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong.”
This was a reference to China banning four opposition lawmakers from holding their seats in the legislature on November 11. Another 19 lawmakers announced their resignations to protest the move soon afterward.
The Five Eyes statement branded China’s action “a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration” and an unacceptable infringement upon Hong Kong’s autonomy, which was supposed to be guaranteed for 30 years when the United Kingdom gave control of the island to Beijing in 1997.
“The disqualification rules appear part of a concerted campaign to silence all critical voices following the postponement of September’s Legislative Council elections, the imposition of charges against a number of elected legislators, and actions to undermine the freedom of Hong Kong’s vibrant media,” the alliance said, calling on China to “stop undermining the rights of the people of Hong Kong.”
On Thursday, the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times dismissed the Five Eyes as a “tiny group” that has degenerated into “a loudspeaker for the U.S.’ anti-China campaign, as well as a fan club that sets an example for other Western countries how to show loyalty to Washington.”
“The Five Eyes is more like a criminal gang in which the U.S. calls the tune and its pawns go fight for it or applaud it. The ‘little brothers’ dare not poke the bubble even if what Washington demands is unreasonable. As time goes by, this has become the ‘political correctness’ in the group,” the Global Times ranted.
The editorial was particularly vicious toward Australia, which China has been trying to bully into submission ever since the Australian government called for a thorough investigation into the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The Global Times said Australia’s government has been “brutally reshaped by Washington” and has “gone too far on the anti-China path.” The Chinese paper was angry at Australia and other nations for interviewing in Beijing’s “internal affairs” by criticizing the Hong Kong crackdown, the concentration camps of Xinjiang province, and China’s efforts to subvert Australian politics.
“China has no reason to compromise with an organization with such racial superiority like the Five Eyes alliance,” the Global Times sneered, a howler given the Chinese Communist Party’s obsession with Han Chinese racial supremacy theories and its remorseless campaigns of ethnic and cultural cleansing in places like Xinjiang, Tibet, and lately, Mongolia.
The article finished up, as most Chinese propaganda does these days, by slamming the Five Eyes nations for their supposedly bungled responses to the coronavirus, asserting they have no right to criticize China while they are still battling the virus:
The US and the UK are both among the countries hit hardest by COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], and both have deep domestic conflicts and long-term uncertainties. Canada and Australia, with their small populations and vast land resources, are more like “Western slackers” than the European countries who have strong crisis awareness. They all need to see where their crisis lies and who their real enemies are. Otherwise, they will always have a misconception that China is poisoning them whenever they are not feeling well. How absurd such a logic is!
Another Global Times editorial heaped scorn on Australia, calling it a “vassal of the U.S.” that recklessly “dropped political dynamite” when it called for an independent investigation of the coronavirus, carried America’s water by obstructing a U.N. Human Rights Council motion against American “racism and police brutality,” and joined the Malabar naval exercises with other U.S. allies so it could become a more effective mercenary for Washington’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
The editorial dissolved into foamy incoherence at the end, hurling every scrap of invective at the Aussies that China’s propaganda squad could dredge up from its collective memory:
Australia is letting its China policy led by the US. Some officials in Canberra exploit the opportunity of US suppression on China to seek political gain by accusing China of interfering Australia and smearing the normal exchanges between the two countries. In 2017, then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on the Australian people to “stand up” against Chinese interference. The utterance from Turnbull was out of unwarranted fear from the so-called China interference and served only as coordination with the US to maliciously play the China card.
Australia has adopted a radical approach to its China policy. The high profile it takes against China does not echo its international status as well as the fact that China is Australia’s largest trading partner.
Australian politicians seem not to understand what national interests are, and view values as a pale excuse to follow the US. They are entangled as they repeat empty slogans on the one hand while worrying about their country’s trade prospects on the other.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave no sign of knuckling under to threats or insults from Beijing on Thursday, coolly informing the Chinese that his nation “will always set our own laws and our own rules according to our national interests — not at the behest of any other nation, whether that’s the U.S. or China or anyone else.”
Morrison was responding to a list of 14 “grievances” sent to Australian media by a Chinese diplomat, which concluded with a command for the Australians to “take concrete actions to correct their mistakes.”
The Chinese government said it was furious at Australia and prepared to become its “enemy” if Beijing’s demands were not met.