CHINAâ€™S FIFTH COLUMN:
Melbourne, May 3, 2008 â€“ To an old China hand the most puzzling news scenes over recent weeks have been
the large and aggressive crowds of Chinese abroad who confronted Free-Tibet demonstrators during the global odyssey of the
Olympic torch relay.
Where did these Chinese patriots suddenly come from? Who paid for the buses, trains and planes that ferried them
to the trouble spots in Europe, Australia and Asia? Who ordered them to neutralize, if necessary by force, the pro-Tibetan
Who were these people?
Reading the news reports it was clear these fervent supporters of Chinaâ€™s defense of brutalities in Tibet were
Chinese-Australian-French-English and European citizen and Chinese students who, when called upon by Beijing, quickly shed
any loyalty to their adopted countries in favor of what most of them openly called â€˜my country.â€™
In our era of massive transmigrations China, the most populous nation, has flooded the world with its citizen. Hardly
a western country exists today in which large numbers of Chinese have not settled, do not study, work, legally or clandestinely or
in which tens of thousands of former Chinese have not become citizen.
If you have lived in China for eight years, as I have, you would expect these migrants or students to embrace the
freedoms and rights we still offer our citizen. After all these Chinese escaped the straight-jacket of Chinaâ€™s totalitarianism with
its muzzled information system, its police-state jurisdiction and the omnipotent control of one-party rule, in name communist in
Wrong. If one followed the explanations these pro-Chinese demonstrators offered the media they firmly believe
what â€˜our countryâ€™ (China) did in Tibet was justified. Tibet they insist is a part of China (something drummed into Chinese
heads from the day they were born) the Dalai Lama is a â€˜splitist,â€™ the 1959 invasion of Tibet was to bring Tibet back to the
Motherland (to which it never belonged) and the western media not only misrepresents but misreports China â€“ obviously unlike
the state-controlled Chinese media which churns out official propaganda every day.
In the old days the emperors of China decreed the death penalty for anyone who left the â€œMiddle Kingdom.â€�
The Chinese who did leave remained quietly in their adopted countries. But today the new China not only encourages its young
people to study abroad and return with the know-how collected in order to benefit the Motherland but sees all Chinese in the
Diaspora as valuable assets that can be mobilized not only to support China financially and intellectually but also to be a lobby
group for China.
Chinaâ€™s fabulous commercial clout has provided Beijing with undreamed power over a very short period. Which
country dares to upset China, not only a provider of merchandise but a highly coveted client? This is why European nations and
Australia permitted a special Chinese police squad to accompany the torch relay from Greece with powers to â€˜defendâ€™ the
torch against any protests?
This special squad, drawn from the Peoples Armed Police, known as the official â€˜thugsâ€™ of China, behaved in
London and Paris as if they were in their own country, punching, kicking those who tried to interfere with a torch passing not
through Chinese but foreign territory.
Outraged by this behavior, which the British and French government tolerated, apparently in order not to upset their
commercial deals with Beijing, Sebastian Coen, a former gold medalist and current chairman of the 2012 Olymic organization
committee, defined these Chinese torch guardians as â€˜thugsâ€™ while a French official called them â€˜robots and watchdogs.â
(Australian authorities isolated the squad of 40 â€˜thugsâ€™ when the torch moved through Canberra following the
outrage over the squadâ€™s heavy-handed methods in Paris and London.)
Few would dispute the Chinese make excellent workers and are usually an asset to the countries that adopted them.
But the torch relay once again illustrated that when it comes to the crunch Chinese loyalty remains with Beijing not their host
country. South East Asian nations, whose economies are largely run by ethnic Chinese, have experienced the dark
side of this host role in the mid 1990s when their ethnic Chinese tycoons â€˜exportedâ€™ their funds to finance investments in
China instead of investing in their adopted countries. This contributed largely to the disastrous financial melt-down in South East
It is not uncommon in China for â€˜orchestratedâ€™ demonstrators to hold up â€œOne Chinaâ€� banners. This is not
a call for unity with Tibet (which is already considered an unalienable part of China) but Chinese determination to incorporate
But when those Chinese living in their adopted countries hold up â€œOne Chinaâ€� placards in Paris, Canberra and
London and intimidate with physical violence â€˜Free-Tibetâ€™ demonstrators one has to realize that Beijingâ€™s formidable
Fifth Column lives and works among us. (ends)