This country’s diverse Chinese-Australian communities are hurting. From conversations with friends, I gather they feel burdened by an obligation to show loyalty to Australia that others simply take for granted. Some report feeling caught in the crossfire between a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reaching out to them to advance its interests, and prominent people in Australia putting them down as possible agents of a foreign power. Others resent being bundled together in broad generalisations, overshadowing the many ways they distinguish themselves from one another, and want other Australians to understand that their political, religious, and contemporary cultural identities often align them more closely with other social groups in Australia than with other Chinese Australians – and only rarely with China.

Still, they are thrust together by a demographic accident that links their cultural identity and national loyalty to the “1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage” listed on the Australian census rolls. And now they learn from an official Prime Minister’s press conference that they are united and collectively smeared through critical questions directed at one of their number, parliamentarian Gladys Liu.

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