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Policy report

Mind your tongue

Language, public diplomacy and community cohesion in contemporary Australia–China relations
Australia-China relations Politics News media Totalitarian systems Communism Freedom of speech Cultural diversity Cultural diplomacy Australia China

As Australia is compelled to engage a more confrontational China, there’s a risk that political commentary and media reporting on China’s influence and interference operations in Australia could affect Chinese-Australian communities adversely. What can well-meaning Australians do to help? And how can Chinese-Australian communities be enlisted as equal partners in meeting the challenges ahead?

The problem is twofold. On one side is the Chinese party-state. Agencies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) misrepresent and distort Australian commentary and reporting about the party’s conduct at home and abroad, its interference operations in Australia, and legitimate Australian responses to its conduct and operations. The aim is to divert or silence criticism of the party, disarm critical voices in the Chinese-Australian community, and drive a wedge between communities within Australia.

On the other side are Australian politicians and media who run the risk of alienating and possibly stigmatising Chinese-Australians through misleading claims or imprecise choices of words.

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Policy Brief report no. 20/2019