Lawmaker takes heat for ‘putting up with racism’ comment — Analysis

Ahead of Australian election, a ruling coalition lawmaker has been accused of “tone deafness” on issue of anti-Chinese sentiments

A senator from Australia’s ruling coalition has been criticized two weeks before the May 21 federal election, after he thanked the Chinese-Australians for “Accepting racism.

Andrew Bragg from the Liberal Party, Senator for New South Wales was speaking to the Chinese Australian Forum participants on Friday. Bragg acknowledged that in spite of tensions with Beijing and the coronavirus epidemic, there has been an increase in racist incidents involving Chinese citizens. He claimed that much of the political rhetoric about China had been “Sometimes it is simple” and emphasized that racism was unacceptable.

Your steadfastness is greatly appreciated. We also appreciate your willingness to tolerate some harsh rhetoric and sometimes racism. It’s not good,” he said.

These remarks immediately sparked outrage among Bragg’s political opponents and social media users, with one saying they show “Tone-deafness is a horrible trait.”

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It was offensive and insulting to hear Senator Bragg trying to distance himself and his fellow racists, and at the same moment seeming to portray racism as something that is inevitable and he thanks all of us for supporting it.,” New South Wales state member of parliament Jenny Leong said, as quoted by AP.

She also accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government of “While trying to win local Chinese communities to increase their electoral advantage, they also whip up anti-Chinese sentiments to support their wider political agenda..”

Bilateral relations between Canberra and Beijing suffered a major blow in 2020 when the Australian government pushed for an independent investigation into the causes of the coronavirus pandemic without consulting China, which then blasted the call “a joke.

In November 2020, China’s embassy released a list of the country’s grievances against Australia, which included, besides the called-for inquiry into Covid’s origins, state funding for “anti-China” research, visa issues, raids on Chinese journalists, and “A crusade leader” on China’s affairs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

In recent weeks, tensions between both countries have risen over the Solomon Islands. Australia, the biggest aid donor to the islands, has criticized that state’s draft security pact with China.

Scott Morrison warned that Beijing building a naval base on the Solomon Islands would be a “The red line” for Australia though he did not specify what exactly his statement meant.

Research by Lowy Institute, spring 2021 found that 18% of Chinese-Australians were physically attacked or threatened in the last year due to their Chinese heritage.

Citing high numbers of incidents involving Chinese nationals, Beijing media has been accusing Canberra of “chronic” racism.

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