In today’s edition of “The Australian”, a conservative national newspaper, Cameron Stewart writes in conspiratorial tones of a new generation of Chinese spies flooding our embassies and corporations, whose mission is to “plunder the best of what the West has to offer”.
The premise of the article – that there are Chinese spies in Australia – is obvious. However, the equally obvious counterexample – that there are Australian spies in China – is blatantly avoided. One would have thought that in an article of this nature any serious journalist would take time to sketch out the larger picture of international espionage.
By failing to present the broader picture of international intelligence gathering, the article deliberately gives the reader the impression that Australia is the innocent victim of Chinese spying. What’s more, they go out of their way to characterise this theft as East vs. West, and frame it in subtly racist terms:
In Australia, as elsewhere in the West, the term “Chinese takeaway” now has more sinister connections.
Or this quote, implying that the Chinese have plans to use our Long Range missile technology against us:
Their primary aim is to steal the secrets of military-related technology, especially in the areas of aeronautics, shipbuilding, electronic eavesdropping and weapons systems, including long-range missiles.
The above quote is particularly amusing given that it appears to be based on conjecture, whereas a recent (underreported) report from the World Policy Institute revealed that since September 11, the US has vastly increased arms sales to repressive regimes with appalling human rights records.
The fact is that Australia itself has very little to offer in terms of intelligence targets. It is far more likely that they are interested in the US bases and operations within our borders, but if the article had made that point clear then it would have failed in its intent to whip up affronted nationalist fervour.