The risible notion that I have ever referred to myself as a “noted Sinologist” is just one of the many fanciful accusations that Clive Hamilton flings my way in his response to my essay. Another is that I belong to some kind of cabal of China academics who are allegedly averse to criticising the Chinese state or its influence in Australia because we have invested so much time studying the Chinese language and Chinese history. Hamilton attributes fabricated quotations to me using inverted commas, including one in which I wish I had written a book on China’s influence in Australia (I don’t, actually), and attacks me for what I never said. Falsely attributed quotations and the invention of conspiracies are, coincidentally, tactics also favoured by the Chinese Communist Party. For the record, I’m a freelance writer, editor and translator, not a salaried academic.
To accuse me of being blind to Chinese operations in Australia is simply more evidence-free bizarreness on Hamilton’s part. To suggest that I would happily rationalise, on any grounds, Chinese students’ aggression towards pro-Tibetan protesters at the April 2008 Olympic torch relay in Canberra borders on defamatory. I wrote and spoke about the torch relay in various forums, including in an essay published in The Monthly in August that year. That piece also discussed death threats to a journalist friend from soi-disant Chinese nationalists for her reporting on human rights abuses in Tibet. The fact that I don’t agree in every detail with Hamilton’s arguments doesn’t make me an amoral idiot.