‘Red Flag’ repeats many of the West’s favourite clichés about China and refuses to hold a mirror up to Australian policy-making. It fails to understand China’s rise and misrepresents the nature of power and empire.
While the slaughters continue in the United States, Australian gloating at our lack of mass shootings is more than a little misdirected. Tim Robertson explains.
In the old imperial district of Beijing, a Ming dynasty mansion is now used as an auxiliary campus by Beijing Normal University. In one of the converted classrooms a group of students are making preparations to leave for Australia next semester and begin their university education abroad. Their first stop will be the University of Adelaide for a two-month intensive language and study skills program.
On 4 June, twenty-five years ago, the Chinese government turned the guns of the People’s Liberation Army on their own people as they protested peacefully in the streets of Beijing. It was a response so gross and ruthless that it left the rest of the world dumbstruck. In Australia, it precipitated an elegiac moment in our history; the last time a leader of one of the major parities responded to the plight of asylum seekers humanly. Prime Minister Bob Hawke sobbed as he promised Chinese students studying in Australia that if they didn’t want to return home they wouldn’t have to: Australia would offer them shelter.