The current pandemic and the response from the regime in China have forced a review of Australia’s national interest. Has this review understood the importance of human rights in protecting the interests of all Australians?
Over the past 20 years, Australian governments have prioritized trade in their efforts to forward the national interest—what we can gain from China. But what is “China,” and can we only gain without loss?
China has been under Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control for just over 70 years as the People’s Republic of China—but China, the country, the people have a history of more than 5,000 years. The CCP isn’t China and doesn’t represent all Chinese people.
Sovereignty and Human Rights
The Australian government’s current stance on the communist regime is seen as an issue of Australia’s sovereignty. But in essence, it’s the sovereignty of human beings, of individual human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family that are to be universally protected.
However, during the current pandemic, the CCP has imposed its concept of rights—part of its ongoing campaign to change U.N. human rights mechanisms to prioritize the rights of the state, ahead of the rights and freedoms of individuals.
For human rights to serve the function of protecting human life and dignity, it requires an understanding that human beings have a precious God-bestowed essence that isn’t to be taken or abused by other human beings. Otherwise, the UDHR becomes an aspirational U.N. document, unable to fulfill its declaration.
If nations and individuals aren’t prepared to endure hardships to protect human rights, then we each lose something of our dignity, as we are each a particle of “humanity” and become more vulnerable to the predations of abusive actors.
A Party of Billionaires
The CCP protects its illegitimate rule by destroying what it fears and co-opting what it needs to survive.
In 2002, then-Party boss Jiang Zemin welcomed the new super-rich into the Party. Now, the CCP survives by serving a cabal of party billionaires cloaked in the communist rhetoric of serving the people, yet still possessed by the communist hatred of universal freedoms and divinely bestowed rights.
Attack on Faith Groups Should Have Been ‘Red Flag’
The hatred of faith is a feature of materialistic communism. It’s widely known that millions of Christians were killed under the Soviet Union. It also isn’t surprising that the CCP also seeks to control or eradicate Tibetans, Uyghurs, Christians, and Falun Gong adherents, leading to the incarceration and deaths of millions of people of faith in China.
The traditional Chinese understanding of life is centered on the unity of heaven and earth. The link between how we live, what we value, and the consequences that follow from our thoughts and actions have been established in orthodox religions for thousands of years. In the East, that’s known as karma.
Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) practitioners had realized the inherent, divine essence of being human, and have resisted the wrath of the Chinese Communist Party for 21 years in protecting the universal principles of Zhen, Shan, Ren (truthfulness, compassion, forbearance).
With Jiang’s campaign to eradicate Falun Dafa in July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party had met its “Achilles heel”—a group of Han Chinese that outnumbered the membership of the Party, who had found China’s traditional spiritual heart, and have peacefully defended it with their lives.
Prior to the persecution, Falun Gong was enjoyed in cities and provinces across China. Following its introduction to the public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi, it became a branch of the state-run China Qigong Scientific Research Association in 1993, and in 1998, the State Sports Commission estimated that more than 70 million people were practicing Falun Gong.
Now, Falun Dafa seems the “forgotten persecution,” even though the party’s campaign, by sheer numbers, makes it the largest attack on the rights of any group in the world. It should have been a “red flag” to Australia and all democratic nations that something truly sinister was growing within China.
In June 2019, the independent China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, concluded that Falun Gong practitioners have been, and continue to be, killed for their organs “on a significant scale,” and that governments who deal with China should now recognize that they are “interacting with a criminal state.”
Human Rights Abuse and Economic Coercion
Why has the world remained silent? The CCP has spent vast amounts of money to influence and co-opt corporations, media, and elected officials all over the world. They are masters at manipulating silence on human rights through the lure of profit as a CCP “business partner.”
But with the impact of the coronavirus, Australia has been pushing back against the CCP’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has rejected the suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to Australia’s calls for an independent and transparent review of COVID-19.
While it has never been appropriate for China to use trade as a weapon to silence Australia on human rights, that’s been happening for the past 20 years.
The Future of Australia–China Relations
What has Australia lost in its pursuit of trade with the CCP? Hopefully, only its innocence. What has it gained? Hopefully, resilience and a determination to uphold Australian values.
The Morrison government is right to demand a thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus. What the CCP fears most, apart from exposure of its atrocities, is to be treated in the same way it treats those it opposes. Australia’s new national security test regime, in which the treasurer can block investments or make divestment orders on national security grounds, is the right response to Beijing.
We can also expect the communist party’s vitriol following the federal Parliament’s inquiry into an Australian Magnitsky-style act. Such a law can name and shame human rights abusers anywhere in the world, deny entry to Australia, and confiscate assets held here. Denying access and confiscating people’s money—now that’s the language Beijing understands. No doubt it will try to belt and railroad the Australian government to avoid such sanctions.
July 20 marked 21 years of ongoing torture and killing of Falun Dafa practitioners at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. It’s an opportunity for Australian parliamentarians to take a stand on human rights, express Australia’s core values, and extend support to the hundreds of millions in China who treasure freedom—a groundswell that will be transformational for China.
They are the future of China, and Australia would do well to be on the right side of history as it unfolds.
John A. Deller is an honorary committee member of the Falun Dafa Association of Australia. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.