Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Wanning Sun, Professor of Chinese Media and Cultural Studies, University of Technology Sydney

The Australian government’s Public Diplomacy Strategy points to the importance of “diaspora diplomacy”. It promises to take steps to “engage diaspora communities drawing on their linguistic skills, social networks and cultural community connections”, by making active use of “online and social media as public diplomacy tools”.

Mandarin-speaking migrants now comprise Australia’s largest ethnic-language-speaking community. But if we take this community as an example, we can safely say Australia’s diaspora diplomacy efforts have already failed before they have even had a chance to start.

Australia’s Chinese community hasn’t been more alienated since Pauline Hanson’s first maiden speech 20 years ago than it is today. The failure to engage with the Chinese diaspora is all the more worrying given China is actively pursuing this group as a potential instrument of its own public diplomacy agenda.

A student migrant-driven media

My recently released report on Chinese-language media in Australia points to the emergence of an online Chinese media sector that is mostly run by student migrants.

These online media typically publish entertainment and soft news, and are not interested in simply being mouthpieces for China’s propaganda. Yet they tend to be staunchly nationalistic in favour of China on issues involving national pride, national sovereignty and territorial disputes.

This sentiment mostly surfaces in response to coverage of these issues by Australia’s mainstream media.

These student migrants had expected the Australian media to be more “objective” than Chinese propaganda. But they realise with disillusion and subsequent bitterness that when Australia and China clash over certain matters, the Australian media are equally dictated to by their own political and ideological agendas.

Recently, the editor of Sydney Today, the most-popular online Chinese-language news site in Australia, was angry to find that his words had been “distorted”, “exaggerated”, and “taken out of context” by a “certain journalist from an English-language newspaper in Australia”.

image Sydney Today is the most popular online Chinese-language news site in Australia. Sydney Today

How the two countries’ media view one another

Pro-China sentiment ran high in the online Chinese community in response to Australian media coverage of the Rio Olympic Games. It responded to, for instance, The Daily Telegraph’s demonisation of Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and Channel Seven’s cultural insensitivity in its coverage of China.

On a more ongoing basis, it appears a significant proportion of the Chinese community feel the Australian media are greatly influenced by the US media and a Cold War mentality, and that they tend to cover China within a narrow framework. The recent drama involving Labor senator Sam Dastyari’s remarks on the South China Sea dispute to Chinese-language media reinforced this perception.

However, the tabloid media have no monopoly on journalism that peddles fear or panders to populist sentiment. Critiques of such narrative frameworks in the online Chinese media are much more visceral and less dispassionate.

News.yeeyi.com, one of the most frequently visited Chinese-language sites in Australia, recently republished an article from China’s nationalistic paper the Global Times responding to an Australian Financial Review piece on China’s “citizen spies”.

After listing a number of points aimed at poking holes in the article’s logic, the Global Times article ends by asking, somewhat acerbically:

China spying on Australia? Why? Tell us, Australia, who do you think you are? What have you got in Australia that is remotely worth spying on, apart from the Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, clean air and killer ultra-violet sunshine?

image News.yeeyi.com, one of the most frequently visited Chinese-language sites in Australia. news.yeeyi.com

What does it mean for social cohesion?

At moments like this, people from the Chinese migrant community experience cultural anxiety and frustration. This may become a trigger for social disharmony.

Anti-Chinese hostility, channelled and fanned by the mainstream media, may fuel negative sentiments toward Australia on the part of Chinese migrants. Their consequent sense of grievance – sometimes expressed in emotionally charged terms – may incur further prejudice, even racism, against them.

This racism, as it is wont to do, operates indiscriminately. It targets all people of Chinese origin – be they from China or elsewhere, be they for or against the Chinese government.

All this has serious implications for social cohesion in Australia’s highly multicultural fabric. If this war of words between the two media sectors continues, there will be no winners – assuming Australia is serious about maintaining harmony.

More than ever, the biggest challenge centres on how to turn this tension into an opportunity for building a diverse, pluralistic and inclusive media environment.

Authors: Wanning Sun, Professor of Chinese Media and Cultural Studies, University of Technology Sydney

Read more http://theconversation.com/beyond-the-war-of-words-how-might-the-australian-medias-coverage-of-china-affect-social-cohesion-65553

'The essential is invisible to the eye': the wisdom of The Little Prince in lockdown


As 'lockdown fatigue' sets in, the toll on mental health will require an urgent response


That'll do, pig, that'll do: Babe at 25, a trailblazing cinematic classic


The Conversation


Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Tracy Grimshaw

TRACY GRIMSHAW: Prime Minister, thank you for your time.    PRIME MINISTER: Great to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.    GRIMSHAW: A month or so ago, you probably thought that today's...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Reinventing The Outside Of Your Office

Efficient work is a priority in most offices. You need a comfortable interior that is functional too. The exterior also affects morale. Big companies have an amazing exterior like university ca...

News Company - avatar News Company

Kaspersky and Ferrari partnership: tailoring cybersecurity for an iconic brand

Kaspersky is commemorating the 10 year anniversary of its strategic partnership with iconic, global brand - Ferrari. The cybersecurity company is a sponsor of the brand’s Formula One racing team...

News Company - avatar News Company

Instant Steel Solutions Review

Are you keen on having the right guidance, knowledge and information about the right kind of steel purchases for your industries? If yes, then you are in the right place. There is no doubt that ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion