Is Chinese Nationalism Testing the Patience of Nationalism in Australia?


In August 2017, students from the University of Newcastle posted a video of a Chinese student lecturing a professor on Communist ideology. Apparently, the professor referred to Taiwan as an independent country. Taiwan’s desire to remain independent is a contentious issue for Chinese so much so that a courtesy call by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to Taiwan President Tsai Ing Wen made headlines in China.

“Chinese students make up one-third of this classroom. You make us feel uncomfortable”, the student in the video is captured saying.

And this isn’t the first time.

Since May, there have been at least four similar incidents involving Chinese students. Chinese nationalism or specifically their allegiance to Communist Party orthodoxy has students and faculty walking on eggshells. They have become more assertive of their nationalistic ideals and force teachers to apologize for making statements they find offensive.

It’s no secret that China loves Australia.

In 2016, China invested $23.8 Billion in Australian real estate; 29% higher that their total property investments the previous year. Overall, China pumped $133 Billion in foreign real estate in 2016. Australia was the second preferred property market after the United States.

There are three reasons why Chinese invest in Australian property:

1. Property in China is more expensive.
2. Chinese want their children to be educated in Australia.
3. Chinese love the lifestyle in Australia.

In 2015, there were 645,185 foreign enrollees in Australian universities. Chinese make up 26% or 170,212 of the total population of foreign students.

As the number of the Chinese segment in the population continue to grow, this is met with resentment from many Australians that they may never achieve the “Great Australian Dream” of owning a home.

Australia’s property market continues to defy the laws of economics as rising prices are met with steady demand as the supply of available housing remains tight. Since 2013, the Chinese have been acquiring residential and commercial properties in Sydney.

Chen Guo Jing, a Chinese property developer feels that Australia has greeted the Chinese people with contradictions. Chen maintains that “Without the Chinese, Australia could not survive.”

With the nationalist movement gaining groundswell support as Australians continue to seek its national identity, it may be advisable for China to step back and realize this is not the Spratly Islands.

The Spratlys are islands located in the Western Philippine Sea. China has laid claim to these islands despite a landmark ruling by the United Nations in favour of the Philippines. China has ignored the ruling and has continued to build military structures on the disputed areas.

As nationalist sentiment begins to challenge the foothold of globalization, China should realize owning property does not mean you own the country. You can and should be proud of your sense of national pride, but be wary of where you set your feet or rest your weary head. Respect should be given if respect is to be earned.

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