Thank You & Merry Christmas | 2020 Wrapped Up
Dear CAF friends,
2020 has been a year of tremendous hardship for thousands, but also one of unprecedented challenge for Chinese Australians. These challenges came from a mutually-reinforcing pile-on of issues that impacted our community, on top of the heath, social and economic pain faced by all Australians.
As geopolitical background, the increasing great power rivalry between the United States and China had seen the PRC characterised no longer as a strategic partner, but rather as a strategic competitor by the United States and its closest allies, including Australia. This has resulted not only in an array of legislation and government action but also overwhelmingly negative media commentary and a caustic public debate that sought to paint the PRC as at worst an enemy or threat and at best unfriendly to the interests of Australia and Australians. A demand by Senator Eric Abetz that three Chinese Australian witnesses appearing before a Senate Enquiry into issued faced by diaspora communities, including CAF’s own Osmond Chiu, that they should unequivocally denounce the CCP dictatorship as a test of their loyalty, was a poignant crystallisation of the issues our community faces.
Then, with the COVID-19 Pandemic and its weaponisation by Donald Trump as the “China Virus”, the anxiety towards China took on an even more menacing dimension for Australians. This was exacerbated by misleading mainstream media reports that Chinese Australians were shipping desperately-needed PPE supplies from Australia to the PRC for profit. Our community began to be publicly abused, glared at in supermarket aisles and attacked on the streets. All this occurred against the backdrop of the ever-persistent latent discrimination and structural racism faced by our community and other Asian Australians.
It was too much for so many of us for whom Australia is our only home and only place of belonging. In April, CAF led the #UnityOverFear Campaign as a response to accelerating anti-Asian racism in the wake of COVID-19. It sought to be a positive campaign that would united Australians, rather than divide them. With no budget, but just the tireless work of CAF Committee members and other friends and supporters, the campaign’s online petition garnered over 100,000 signatures of support, extensive media coverage as well as extensive support from politicians, government agencies such as Austrade, unions and community organisations.
I am confident that this campaign and the debate around it, successfully changed the public discourse and language around the issue of China. The media now generally refers to the PRC and CCP rather than just “China”, and there is now a clear recognition, reinforced by the Australian PrIme Minister, that Chinese Australians were to be clearly distinguished from the PRC/CCP, were loyalty citizens and were deserving of the community’s support and admiration. We can all be rightly very proud of this campaign and the work that we have together done. We have had a significant impact during this, the most difficult of years.
Although CAF’s activities were severely curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions, we nevertheless held online events, published extensive community information in English and Chinese particularly regarding the pandemic and health advice, and continued to advocate on behalf of the Chinese Australian community. As we approach 2021, we look forward to a more normal year for CAF where hopefully our regular community events, seminars and functions can return. In short, we have missed you, missed our sharing of experiences and views, missed the conversations and camaraderie of our community.
For 2021, we wish you more of what defines our community: optimism, togetherness and resilience. Thank you for your continued support for CAF.
With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
Jason Yat-sen Li President