Commentary on Political Economy

Friday, 31 July 2020


Living with China’s ‘white terror’

Dong Wuyuan knew her life would be thrown into turmoil when she decided to take a public stand against the Chinese Communist Party.
Dong protested in Melbourne against China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the treatment of COVID-19 whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, and the consequences have been serious.
The student in her 20s received death threats; her parents were threatened with jail in China; her WeChat social media account — the communication lifeline of any Chinese expat — was blocked.
This heavy-handed ­response to a single person’s protest in another country wasn’t unusual. In fact, it was horrifyingly familiar. As members of the Chinese diaspora are aware, dissent is not tolerated by the CCP, no matter where in the world it takes place.
Dong has been living in Australia for more than a year and says she supports democracy for China as well as Australia’s ­demands for a full and transparent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It all started last September when Dong went to Melbourne’s CBD wearing a cardboard cutout of a figure holding two shopping bags — one with an image of ­Winnie-the-Pooh on it and ­another with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
The installation brought together images of the Tiananmen Square massacre figure tank man, defied a ban on satirising President Xi Jinping as Pooh Bear-like, and showed solidarity with Hong Kong protesters at a sensitive time when new security laws were being imposed.
In a video hook-up that Dong recorded, police demanded she ­return to China to face prison. China’s ire had been raised by her Twitter post saying “never forget 1989 Tiananmen massacre, evil CCP government killed its own citizens”.

Chinese Australian's reflect on heritage and home

There are more than 1.2 million Chinese Australians. The Diaspora Project asks this diverse group what it thinks about heritage and home.
On the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Dong upped the ante. She ­revealed her identity and blew the whistle on police harassment of her family in a protest on the ­internet in which she posted a Tiananmen massacre commemoration speech hosted by ­Humanitarian China.
As a result, Dong says, she has received death threats from “Chinese nationalists” and all contact with her parents has been cut.
Across several weeks of communications with The Weekend Australian, Dong says the Communist Party screws have been tightened, her WeChat and Chinese QQ mail accounts blocked, her communications monitored and efforts by her mother to make phone contact stymied.
Dong says she is now fearful for the safety of her parents and will not return to China. She uses Dong Wuyuan as an online pseudonym that translates to “Horror Zoo”.
Dong earned a masters ­degree in China and has been ­offered a place at a university in Sydney to continue her studies. With limited funds and no family support, Dong says, her study plans will be deferred for one semester, but she is determined to stay in Australia.
“I want to make a real ­Chinese community,” she says. “Not one controlled by the CCP.
“You will never see the pain in the Chinese people, it is a history trauma.
“This trauma will go to the next generation and the next generation. Some call it the white terror. This is a kind of terror you are facing every day, it is a kind of anxiety.
“I put my strength to make the Chinese understand much about democracy or freedom.
“Because I love the Chinese peop

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