SYDNEY – A member of parliament from Australia’s ruling Liberal Party appeared on Thursday to compare China to Nazi Germany, prompting instant condemnation from Beijing at a time of diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
In an op-ed article published by media belonging to the Fairfax conglomerate, Andrew Hastie said that “the West once believed that economic liberalization would naturally lead to democratization in China” in the same way that “the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940.”
“Even worse, we ignore the role that ideology plays in China’s actions across the Indo-Pacific region. We keep using our own categories to understand its actions, such as its motivations for building ports and roads, rather than those used by the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
The lawmaker, who chairs a parliamentary committee on Security and Intelligence, called for balancing Australia’s security alignment with the United States – Canberra’s historical ally – and its trade interests with China.
In response to the opinion piece, the Chinese embassy in Australia issued a statement criticizing the article and describing Hastie’s views as a result of “Cold-War mentality and ideological bias.”
“It goes against the world trend of peace, cooperation and development,” the statement added. “It is detrimental to China-Australian relations.”
Of late, ties between Beijing and Canberra have been strained, partly because of the Asian giant’s alleged interference in Australia’s domestic affairs, which resulted in the Commonwealth passing controversial security laws as its intelligence agencies denounced alleged cases of espionage by Beijing.
Australia has also protested the arrest of a Chinese-Australian writer in China and expressed reservations about the expansion of Chinese technology company Huawei and its involvement in the development of 5G technology networks.