Opinion | Those 'human rights' protesters who heckled Chinese ambassador are in the league of losers
By Augustus K. Yeung
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi being Number 3 politician in the line of succession in the U.S. presidency, should show her political wisdom and stamina, but by visiting Taiwan and staging a cross-strait drama, is she really a winner? Perhaps, Nancy is a lousy loser. The U.S. midterm elections will deliver the final verdict: Do or die. Remember the political fate of Scott Morrison?
Really, who are diplomats? What do they do?
Envoys or diplomats are politicians officially tasked with the responsibility of representing countries, communicating with other governments and people – to bridge communication gaps that exist, to smooth out problems, and to pave the way for better bilateral relations.
In the history of contemporary diplomacy, there have been great diplomats: China's former foreign minister marshal Chang Yi is still fondly remembered by fellow diplomats for his sense of humor. Once, while he was visiting the Southeast Asian countries, trying to make a point, emphasizing China's determination and stance on being a nuclear power, he said: "I'd rather lose my trousers than not keeping to our development of being a nuclear power." The Chinese marshal arrested public attention and caught the political imagination of the international community.
Since the end of the Cold War, though, relations between China and the West have deteriorated to "the point of ice," a Chinese idiomatic expression that aptly describes the feel and chills that the nation's diplomats are experiencing in Western countries, of which Australia is an illustration.
CHINA AND AUSTRALIA SHOULD RESET THEIR RELATIONS…
Beijing and Canberra should reset their relations following the election of a Labor government, China's ambassador to Australia said in a rare public speech that was interrupted repeatedly by "human rights" protesters.
Xiao Qian, who was recently appointed ambassador, was questioned on the graying of ties between two countries after addressing an audience at the University of Technology Sydney on June 25, according to FT.
The ambassador said the election of Anthony Albanese's government provided an "opportunity for a possible improvement for bilateral relations" following a tense period between the Asia-Pacific countries. But protesters condemned the university for hosting Xiao, interrupted his reception eight times to express anger and dismay over the Chinese government's policies towards Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.
Tensions between the countries rose in recent years after Australia banned the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment in 5G networks; former prime minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, triggering Beijing's furious reaction.
Xiao described the Huawei ban as "the first shot that damaged our normal relations". China responded by imposing punitive tariffs on Australian imports including wine and barley and banning its coal.
THE CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT, GOOD HEAVENS
Since his election, Albanese has called on Beijing to end the tariffs. He has criticized China's military actions. His government has also moved to improve relations with Pacific Island nations to counter the growing influence of China in the region. In a sign of a diplomatic thaw, Australian defense minister Richard Marles met his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, in Singapore in June.
China is Australia's largest trading partner and Xiao said the tariffs were "an issue of complexity". Michael Fullilove, head of Lowy Institute think-tank, said: "We should co-operate with China when we can, disagree when we must, and always stand our ground…"
College students' primary concern should be about learning – powered by curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Protesters could have posed questions such as: "Why did China-Australia relations take a turn for the worst, having enjoyed booming bilateral trades? How to salvage the strained relations, and restore the diplomatic ties after the blunders of Scott Morrison?"
The debates among expert guest speakers, or speeches by envoys are excellent learning opportunities for student attendees, some of them may turn out to be future political leaders such as Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating. For example, the debate forums, or speech sessions hosted by Tsinghua, Oxford and Harvard Universities variously have been first-class incubators, preparing candidates for the future. And the attendees had been seriously taking part by listening to, asking questions about, and inviting debaters or diplomats to face-to-face share their personal experiences which students could not get from textbooks.
Returning to the Australian scene, the "human rights" protester who was given the boot by the University of Technology Sydney had not only lost this learning opportunity; he has also been a disgrace to the country. Will these part-time protesters one day be envoys that represent their country as career diplomats? I doubt very much – as they have explicitly shown their shortcomings as dissipated diplomats, far from being successful future scholars.
Being thrown out by the host university would be an out-and-out public disgrace; it is a loser's bet – among many other alternatives.
Or, if you had the chance to listen to former Australian prime minister Keven Rudd, the world's foremost authority on China, who would characteristically tease his audience with his fluent Mandarin, and occasionally tout his Chinese language skills to make his talk show interesting, or to strategically divert the attention of his audience for a moment's pause.
Why should Australian "human rights" protesters bother to stage a senseless high street drama – which U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now senselessly doing – to further damage the bilateral relations amid conflicts in Eastern Europe, the threat of food crisis as well as inflation worldwide?
The author is a freelance writer; formerly Adjunct Lecturer, taught MBA Philosophy of Management, and International Strategy, and online columnist of 3-D Corner (HKU SPACE), University of Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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