<img src="http://larvatusprodeo.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/youtube_kevin-rudd-chairman-mao-2.jpg" align=left In the wake of the Joel Fitzgibbon brouhaha, the “investigative journalists” of the press are now hot on the heels of any vague link between an ALP figure and China, working themselves up into an illogical lather of meaningless connection hyperbole, accompanied by the drumbeat of dumb soundbeats from Opposition frontbenchers. Julie Bishop’s claim that Kevin Rudd is “the Manchurian candidate” probably takes the cake.
There’s a bit of a case study here in how political opportunism and media ZOMG!-ism combine to obscure some real (and really important) issues which should be the subject of public debate.
Among those are the legitimate question of whether China’s financial heft should be reflected by a shift in its voting status in the IMF – now that China is more or less expected to continue to finance the voracious sovereign debt of Western nations seeking to stimulate their way out of the GFC. There are also issues around investments by Chinese entities which are effectively sovereign wealth funds in Australia… And the whole story about Joel Fitzgibbon and what’s actually going on with the governance of an arrogant and unwieldy defence empire is completely obscured rather than enlightened by all of this.
Crikey put it well in today’s editorial, which has been reproduced (with permission) over the fold.
It is rare that such an open and shut case has been presented to the Australian people for judgment. There cannot be a shred of doubt: Helen Liu is … um, something. You know. Like, a bit, sort of … you know what we mean.
According to The Australian’s headline, Liu “…has strong links with Chinese army”. However, when eager readers examine the relevant article to see this clinching proof that our Defence Minister has been “showered with gifts” by a PLA officer, they only discover she’s on the editorial committee of “Shandong Celebrities Family”, which “has extensive membership within China’s military, the Peoples’ Liberation Army”.
But wait, there’s more compelling evidence. “Of the past 10 cover photos, three have featured senior army officers”. An ex-PLA officer did some calligraphy for them.
And the clincher? Ms Liu — or Madame Liu, as News Ltd publications inexplicably call her — is from Shandong, and “Shandong is famous as a source of senior soldiers in China.”
Lucky she’s not from Szechuan, famous for its duck. Even The Australian in its wildest deluded dreams, surely cannot be serving this rubbish up with a straight face.
Oh, and last time we checked, News Ltd’s owner was himself married to a Chinese-born businesswoman. Married! Chinese! Woman!
ASIO took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement saying it had no concerns about Ms Liu. Or, presumably, with her connections with John Howard, with whom she has been photographed.
What’s the exact charge here? What’s the problem? Where is this all leading? And what is the Opposition trying to suggest with its constant reiteration of loose factoids connecting the Rudd Government with China?
Instead of devoting time and effort to working out who did calligraphy for “Shandong Celebrities Family”, here are some real issues journalists could pursue:
*what the febrile Sinophobic atmosphere being whipped up in Australia means for future Chinese investment
*how Kevin Rudd can best argue the Anglo-American-Asia-Pacific case for sensible reform to global finance
*how Australia’s defence interests are served if a handful of rogue Defence officials can slander the Minister trying to reform that Department.