TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A joint media investigation has found an Australian council last year banned a local Chinese-language newspaper from sponsoring a Lunar New Year event due to its criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
Investigative documentary series Four Corners and daily newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald obtained documents that revealed Georges River Council in Sydney received at least eight threats over a 12-month period from Chinese consular officials in Australia, ABC News reported.
The newspaper in question, Vision China Times, is the largest freely-distributed Chinese-language newspaper in Australia, and is owned by Australian corporation Vision Times Media.
Vision China Times was initially listed as a sponsor for the Georges River Council 2018 Lunar New Year celebrations. According to ABC News, a Chinese consular official wrote to the council on January 17 last year complaining of “a politically anti-China media” that was listed as an event supporter, which they suggested could damage the development of Australia-China relations.
Vision China Times was pulled from the list of sponsors the same day, after which an administrative officer emailed the Chinese consulate to say the council “respects and values” their relationship, as well as the broader Australia-China alliance.
Vision China Times manager Maree Ma told ABC News the newspaper regularly comes under attack for not toeing the Communist Party line. Advertisers of the newspaper in China have also faced threats from officials, forcing them to take advertisements down.
Georges River Council was threatened by the Chinese consulate again this year, when it requested “anti-China groups” be banned from sponsoring the 2019 event. Vision China Times was not included on the sponsor list for the 2019 Georges River Council Lunar New Year celebrations.