Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews has continued defending a staffer with links to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work Department after revelations of her activities came to light earlier this week.
During a heated Question Time in the Victorian state parliament on June 3, Andrews was asked by Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien whether electorate officer Nancy Yang had been vetted by security agencies before she was hired, saying it was “standard practice.”
The Premier replied, “Speaker, I reject the assertion from Leader of the Opposition that Australian citizens ought to be vetted by security agencies.”
“I’m not entirely sure that electorate office staff are ‘vetted’… one wonders what the term ‘vetting’ actually means in the context of what the Leader of the Opposition has put forward,” he said.
“The Leader of the Opposition and his conspiracy theories, well you stick at that, and we’ll continue to grow jobs and investment, profitability, prosperity.”
“The electorate officer in question is not only doing an outstanding job supporting her local community … but she’s an outstanding Victorian and one I’m pleased to have on my staff.”
Nancy Yang’s role in the Andrews’ government has come under scrutiny this week following revelations that she posted material on her Facebook page alluding to a conspiracy theory that the pandemic originated from the U.S. Army, and not from China.
According to The Australian Yang posted the article on March 18 on Facebook titled: “Chinese official suggests US Army to blame for outbreak.” Yang also wrote a comment reading, “U.S. owe an explanation.” The post was recently deleted.
The Belt and Road Initiative signed by Daniel Andrews with the CCP’s National Development and Reform Commission has received national and international attention due to national security fears.
A ‘Patriotic’ Chinese Youth Praises the ‘Motherland’
Nancy Yang was a founding member of the Melbourne Chinese Youth United Association (MCYUA) in 2006, as well as a committee member of the Chinese Community Council of Australia (Victoria).
Clive Hamilton, a leading writer on CCP infiltration in Australia and author of “Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia,” told The Australian the council is the “foremost United Front organisation in Victoria.”
According to Hamilton, the United Front deploys “sophisticated techniques to influence, persuade, and coerce others to act in ways approved by Beijing.”
Her work in the MCYUA drew attention from the United Front and she was subsequently invited to “represent the United Front” and other affiliated organisations to participate in “training, study tours, innovation, and discussions.”
In the interview, Yang said she found Australia’s economy was “increasingly dependent on China.”
“The Australian government now often plays the “China card,” she told the Guangming Daily in 2008.
“Today, Chinese people who study, work, and live in Australia, no matter what their status, they have greater opportunities because of this situation. I am deeply proud to have a strong motherland (China) behind me.”
In June 2008, in another state-owned newspaper, the People’s Daily, Yang applauded the “Reform and Opening Up” of China during the 1970s saying, “We are a generation who grew up in the spring breeze of Reform and Opening Up.”
“We have more opportunity and vision to identify with the motherland (China), so we have more reason to focus on the motherland (China) and do things for the country.”
Yang went on to say that as more Chinese students studied abroad, they would understand that “Only when we go abroad, do we realise how much we truly love our country (China).”
Supporting the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay
Yang was involved in organising Chinese students to support the torch relay.
The 2008 iteration of the games was shrouded in controversy due to the Chinese regime’s human rights record.
When the torch relay visited Canberra in April 2008, scuffles broke out between pro-China and pro-Tibet supporters, who lined the streets to either support or protest the event.
Yang told China Central Television (CCTV) in May 2008 that 500 Chinese students had arrived in Canberra early in the morning and stayed in tents. Yang said they were “moved to tears,” and the situation was reminiscent of the “union of the three Red Armies.”
The “union of the three Red Armies” is a historical episode in 1935 which concluded the Long March and saw the coming together of three CCP military detachments that had retreated following a heavy defeat to the Nationalist Army.
It is estimated the Long March reduced the 80,000 strong CCP army to 6,000 due to starvation, desertion, and sickness. Mao Zedong wrote a poem on the Long March—glorifying it.
Yang told CCTV that during the torch relay pro-China supporters would scream slogans to drown out protestors, saying, “In Canberra, when there were different voices, the voice of “One China!” immediately overwhelmed them.”
“The lens of Western media cannot erase the waving of our national flag!” she said in response to media reports on Beijing’s human rights issues.
The CCP’s Nationalism, ‘Little Pinks’ and the ’50 Cent Army’
Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, an analyst at the Australia Strategic Policy Institute, wrote in October 2019 of how the concept of nationalism has been “hijacked” by the Chinese regime to “indoctrinate its citizens and the diaspora.”
Xu said pride in the country’s achievements was distorted to represent “pride in the CCP” which was a narrative channelled into schoolchildren and the public.
“On the first day of primary school, we were given a student handbook in which the first rule was to love the country and the party,” she wrote.
“Growing up, ‘Taiwan is a sacred, inseparable part of China’ was taught to us as a fact just like ‘the Earth is round.’”
“The most common wish for an idealist Chinese teenager is to ‘serve the motherland,’” wrote Xu. “To be a model Chinese citizen is to be ready to fight.”
“Little Pinks” along with the “50 Cent Army” are young Chinese, under the age 24, who will vigorously defend the Chinese regime from criticism, usually in online forums.
A notable incident of Little Pinks and the 50 Cent Army at work involved Australian Olympic swimmer Mack Horton, who was subjected to years of online abuse after he accused Chinese swimmer Sun Yang of being a “drug cheat” at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Feng Chongyi, associate professor of China studies at the University of Technology in Sydney wrote that the Chinese regime’s young defenders came to the fore during the pro-Hong Kong democracy protests in 2019.
Rallies were held around the world in support of Hong Kong, however, Chinese international students were mobilised to counter the rallies in so-called “patriotic demonstrations.” Sometimes these resulted in physical altercations.
“In particular Chinese students from major cities in … Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide made a big move on 16-17 Aug 2019, shouting [profanities] at peaceful pro-Hong Kong rallies,” Feng said.
Feng said overseas students who were away from family or friends in China were lonely, and more susceptible to the influence of CCP propaganda, Chinese-backed student associations, and closed WeChat groups.
“In reality, they have little contact with [local] students, are not involved in local culture, and do not join the union of local student organisations,” he said.