A Chinese candidate in one of Brisbane’s most multiculturally diverse electorates has run advertising campaigns calling on Chinese-speakers to “vote for one of our own people” and has called on Beijing to “strike hard” against adversaries over the South China Sea.
He is running in the southern Brisbane seat of Stretton, which has the highest concentration of Mandarin-speakers in Queensland.
In one advertisement run in the Queensland Chinese Times, Zhuang’s campaign slogan reads: “Vote for one of our own people.”
Another ad run in the Asian Community News Weekly reads, “Same roots, same clan, same origin, it’s easier to communicate with our own people.”
“The Chinese community should unite and select its own representative,” it continued.
The post read: “I urge the Chinese government to follow the law and promote the ‘strike hard’ and ‘suppression’ overseas, starting with neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan, and gradually spreading to the Americas, Europe and Australia, so that people of all ethnic groups will feel China’s presence.”
When questioned on the posts and advertising, Zhuang said “I had forgotten it,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what I said. I can’t remember. I don’t think it’s my post.”
A Liberal National Party (LNP) spokesperson told The Epoch Times, “He was referencing a satirical article by a Chinese comedian living in the United States which was written in early 2013 and shared by him in March 2013 about Chinese fighters participating in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”
The spokesperson said there is no conflict with federal government policy towards Beijing and the South China Sea.
Zhuang also declined to condemn Beijing’s treatment of the persecuted Muslim Uighur minority, who have been detained in re-education camps.
In recent months, the government has pushed a swathe of initiatives which could curb Beijing’s influence and foreign interference activities, including revamping the citizenship test to place a greater emphasis on Australian values.
Revelations of the comments come as the Queensland LNP fights to maintain a presence in the Labor Party stronghold of metropolitan Brisbane.
The political views of the communities, however, are diverse, with some supporting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and many leaning towards democracy and having a more critical view of Beijing.
Outspoken democracy activists and independent Chinese-language press have also been subject to intimidation from CCP supporters and affiliates.
Mike Burgess, director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) recently warned a Senate Estimates committee: “It is unacceptable that people in Australia are being intimidated simply for advocating for democratic reforms or criticising human rights abuses.”
While wariness of CCP influence in federal politics has become hot button issue in recent years, Professor Clive Hamilton, author of Silent Invasion, has warned that state and local level politics is still a breeding ground for interference.
At a recent inquiry into the Foreign Relations Bill, Hamilton told the committee that the CCP was circumventing federal-level politics and targeting more vulnerable, and less vigilant, sub-national governments and universities.
“One element of the Chinese Communist Party strategy is known as … ‘using the local to surround the centre,’ that is, using good relations with local actors to pressure national governments,” he told the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee on Oct. 12.
Focus News: Queensland LNP Candidate’s Call for Beijing to ‘Strike Hard’ Against Its Adversaries