Chinese Embassy Lashes Out Over Australian TV Segment

Amid heated debate over PRC influence in Australia, the country’s edition of 60 Minutes asked "Is China taking over the South Pacific?" in its broadcast on Sunday. "Somewhat arrogantly," host Tom Steinfort noted, "Australia has always considered [the region] ‘our patch of paradise’ to protect and nurture. But now the Chinese are moving in, splashing their cash in places like Fiji and Vanuatu." The show is available in two parts on YouTube for viewers outside Australia.

According to a separate blog post, producers received an "aggressive, threatening and loud" phone call on June 12 from the head of media affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, who complained that footage of the Chinese Embassy in Vanuatu had been obtained illegally and without permission, including with an unauthorized drone overflight. 60 Minutes denies these accusations, claiming that it filmed the site legally from public space, and that its drone never passed over the embassy grounds. From Charles Wooley:

Cao may have been channeling the rage of a regime only accustomed to getting its own way. She might not yet understand that unlike in China, in our system [executive producer Kirsty] Thomson does not work for, nor does she do the bidding of Canberra.

“You will listen,” the embassy-official shouted down the phone.

“There must be no more misconduct in the future.”

[…] Shouting at an editor or a producer might work in China but in this country such behavior will not scotch a story.

Indeed it is likely only to generate more reportage and comment.

[…] Ms. Cao at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra might also appreciate that if she disagrees with anything in this account there is space here to publish her right of reply.

Even if we don’t agree with it, we will publish it. That’s how a free media works in this country. [Source]

Cao’s intervention prompted some discussion on Twitter:


(This comment sparked an exchange with Bishop herself, who denied having blamed the media as China’s Foreign Ministry reported.)