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Ideological bias keeping Australia mired in the past: China Daily editorial

China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-31 20:11

Suspicion, mistrust and hostility are the messages that China continues to receive from Australia. Admittedly this could be a legacy of the poisonous atmosphere which was fostered by the previous administration of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. But the longer this climate of prejudice persists, the more it will erode the basis for ties between the two countries.

The latest Australian accusations are once again targeted at Chinese telecommunications companies doing business in Australia and normal academic exchanges with Australian institutes.

Critical infrastructure such as electricity grids, water supplies and hospitals could not be adequately safeguarded if Chinese-owned telecommunications giants were involved in Australia's new 5G network, claimed Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate in a speech in Canberra on Monday.

While he did not mention them by name, Huawei and ZTE are the two vendors he called high risk. Both of the enterprises have been smeared in this way before.

And in another development that will aggravate the simmering frictions between the two countries, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute claimed that some Chinese scientists hide their military backgrounds to work on sensitive research programs, such as navigation and missile technology, at Australian universities.

Clearly, these wild and unsupported accusations have their roots in concern about China's development and the eagerness of Canberra to keep Washington sweet by backing the US administration in its bid to curb China's technological progress. Particularly in 5G, which is regarded as the future economic high ground, and one where Washington is desperate to plant the flag.

Fortunately, not all Australians share that concern or objective. The state of Victoria, undaunted by the cold shoulder still being shown to China, has decided to trust its own judgment and has just signed up to participate in China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Also the China Institute with the University of Technology Sydney said in a report on Monday that playing up a China threat does not conform to Australia's interests. Even some members of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government have made favorable remarks on developing ties with China since taking office in August, so bilateral relations are not entirely shrouded in doom and gloom.

But for this desirable upside to gather momentum, more people in Australia need to appreciate that China's continued development is an opportunity, not a threat.

Discriminatory measures based on manufactured excuses are the product of a lingering ideological bias that is long past its sell-by date. Canberra should follow Victoria's lead and embrace the cooperative trend of the times.

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