“…The worthy venture of building an Australia-China relationship of mutual trust and respect has been harmed. Imagine how Beijing would react if entities linked to a powerful foreign government were paying travel and legal bills for rising stars in the Chinese polity.
This could be the moment when the expensive tapestry of China’s “soft power” influence in Australia – across politics, business, media, universities and a divided Chinese-Australian community – begins to unravel. At the very least, these activities will now be subject to greater scrutiny.
But there has been even more unintended bang for the buck. For a bargain sum, the donor, Minshen Zhu’s aptly-named Top Education Institute, has given all Australian voters what educators these days call “a teachable moment”.
It is a priceless lesson in the vulnerability of Australian democracy to foreign influence in a contested Asia.
If the Coalition and Labor electoral machines really can’t function without millions of dollars from interests linked to an authoritarian foreign power, then Australian democracy is in trouble….” Sam Dastyari’s South China Sea support is a big deal and a timely warning