Chinese "Soft Power" questioned: BBC

September 20, 2018

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says the growing influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Australia is of great concern. 

The Confucius Institute in China has been established in cooperation with different institutions in many parts of the world to promote Chinese culture, teach Chinese and showcase China's "soft power".

But as BBC Chinese reports, in Europe and the United States, many universities have suspended their co-operation with the Confucius Institutes due to growing concerns about academic freedom, spy infiltration, and theft of intellectual property rights.

Senator Bernardi moved a motion in the Senate last month, calling on the federal government to re-examine the relationship with the Confucius Institute, but it failed to pass.

Senator Bernardi said,"Confucius Institutes represent the expansion of the CCP so-called ‘soft power’ initiatives around the world and Australia has a disproportionately high number of these Chinese government-funded institutes – the third highest in the world after the USA and UK".

"Academics are self-regulating due to pressure to toe the CCP line on topics such as Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang. This ultimately begins to shape Australians’ opinions about Chinese foreign policy," he said.

He continued, "The New South Wales government is reviewing its engagement with the institutes – and the Conservative Party has sought to urge other states to do likewise, via my Senate motion (which the major parties defeated)".

In the UK, the Human Rights Commission is conducting an inquiry into the institutes. US FBI Director Christopher A Wray told a Senate Hearing in February the FBI is investigating the institutes as they share concerns about them being “one of the many tools that the CCP take advantage of”

Senator Bernardi went on,"To be clear, our concern is about CCP influence. The Chinese cultural influence within Australia has been significant over centuries, but the communist ideology and CCP line is the concern that affects Australians".

"We are a proud, strong Western democracy which passionately upholds our freedoms. We are also strong supporters of our allies, such as the United States of America. The CCP aspires to diminish our allegiance to the USA, and this is not in the Australian national interest," he concluded.

Yesterday in the Senate, given the overwhelming body of evidence pointing to CCP influence in Australia Senator Bernardi asked the Coalition Government to establish a Royal Commission to investigate.

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