Calls to abandon Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure agreement with Beijing were echoed by the Vietnamese Community on Sunday as public scrutiny continues to grow over what many have described as a “dud deal” agreement.
Speaking on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House while maintaining social distancing, Bon Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Association of Australia, iterated his community’s concerns over the BRI, which he said does not act in Victoria’s and Australia’s interests.
“The [Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] has other hidden agendas [behind the BRI], which has been pointed out by many experts,” he said.
Under the BRI, the CCP has been reported to significantly undercut foreign companies for infrastructure bids, and loan unserviceable amounts to countries that cannot afford the BRI, resulting in debt-trap diplomacy. The Chinese regime then extracts political and economic concessions from such countries, such as in the Pacific region, which then poses a national security risk for the Western world, Associate Professor Michael Clarke from the National Security College at the Australian National University told News Corp.
However, the Victorian government maintains that the BRI agreement is about creating local jobs for Victorians.
Additionally, Bon said that the CCP’s response to Australia’s request for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has shown the true colours of the regime and that associating with it would be “dangerous” for Australians.
“We should free ourselves from being influenced by the Chinese Communist regime,” he said.
Bon, like many in his community, escaped the communist regime and sought freedom in Australia. He said that his community knows first hand how the communist regime lies and murders its own people to pursue an agenda.
“This is why we left our country … we found our freedom in Australia,” he added.
Speaking alongside Bon were members of the Tibetan and Uyghur communities, Australia-Hong Kongers, and the Chinese Overseas Democratic Movement, who have also called for the BRI to be terminated.
Tenzin Domely, secretary of the Victorian Tibetan community, said that the BRI is a way for the Chinese regime to expand its geopolitical influences in BRI countries. There are currently 138 countries that have signed Memorandums Of Understanding (MOU) with the Chinese regime, reported News Corp.
“We have seen recently on our own soil the punitive and vindictive nature of China’s way to secure their own national interest,” Domely said. She added that the 80 percent barley tariff imposed by the Chinese regime is one of many recent examples.
“As Australians we deserve respect and we deserve dignity in our relations,” she said.
Alim Osman, president of the Uyghur Association of Victoria, said that despite the state premier signing an agreement with the CCP, the CCP is known for not obeying the rule of law.
“If Daniel Andrews thinks otherwise, then he must be blinded by … the CCP,” Osman said. Osman added that the BRI will not only make Victoria vulnerable to economic collusion but impact freedom of speech.
Ruan (Frank) Jie, a member of the Overseas Chinese for Democracy movement, said that the BRI seeks to export the CCP’s ideology into democratic nations.
“We know the BRI is dangerous for Australians,” Frank said. “The BRI is like a virus to our society.”
Wing Tang from the Melbourne Hong Kong community said that the BRI is “territorial expansion under the guise of globalisation.”
“The real ambition behind the BRI is to use economic means as a vanguard to establish control over the financial and political lifelines of other countries, and turn them into the CCP’s colonies in its globalist strategies,” Tang said. “They’ve persecuted Uyghurs, Tibetan and Falun Gong … they’ve crippled Hong Kong and are ruling it with terror.”
Zion Lo, also from the Hong Kong community, posed a question to Daniel Andrews as to whether human rights safeguards are in place when dealing with the Chinese regime.
Phong Nguyen, vice president of the Victorian Vietnamese Association, said despite businesses and livelihoods being affected during the CCP virus pandemic, Daniel Andrews has instead sided with the CCP.
“For the sake of Victoria’s economy, for the sake of Victoria’s democracy, for the sake of Victoria’s sovereignty, and for the sake of Australia, we must fight and get rid of this Trojan horse—the BRI—now,” he said.