By Zimeng Ye with contributions from Bowen Yan
When Clive Hamilton’s book Silent Invasion was published several months ago, claiming Chinese agents are undermining Australia’s sovereignty, it did not raise the anticipated response of outrage from Chinese international students. This outcome should not be surprising: Chinese students, the antagonists of such narratives, have mostly remained calm when confronted with the anti-China sentiments voiced in Australian society.
Combined with reports of Chinese international students engaging in student politics by the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Broadcast Corporation, we thought that people in Australia would be interested in international students’ attitudes towards the anti-China coverage directed at them. Does it place a burden on our daily lives? Are we resentful towards the damaging attitudes towards us? Will these words stop us from getting involved in student politics on campus?
Actually, we strongly opposed the views of Hamilton’s book. However, our intention is not to refute the “Chinese invasion” or “Chinese students are spies”. Rather, we aim to lay bare our thoughts of running for university organizations in order to justify the real purpose of Chinese international students engaging in student politics.
Great climate, intense academic atmosphere, and natural scenery: there are countless reasons for us to fall in love with Australia. But we are still looking for challenges to make our university careers more meaningful. And we think we have found the solution: serving the students on campus.
We don’t want just to be hasty passers-by in this country and we gradually realized that completing further studies is not the only purpose for us to come here. We begin to spend much effort in understanding and integrating into our university because the unfamiliar cultural environment and different ways of communication made it difficult for us to find any sense of belonging.
The prudent fear of the Australian society towards Chinese students disappoints me, but we still believe that the country’s fair reasoning will finally defeat this gossip. We have always seen Australia’s multiculturalism as a treasure of this country. Many Chinese students like ourselves want to let more people in this land understand that we Chinese students can also win respect and due rights for international students or even students with different cultural background.
Undeniably, for Chinese students who would like to try their best to integrate into the campus culture and strive for providing student services during their studies, they may be accused of being spies sent by the Chinese government. However, the phenomenon does not mean the principles we international students hold is not suitable to serve students on campus.
When we see our fellow students creating high-quality student societies to give more Australian students the opportunity to know about China’s culture, we feel extremely proud because we think that the existence of these organizations will certainly contribute to eliminating misunderstandings. The Chinese people’s philosophy has always been that harmony is prized, we will not hold any negative feelings toward Australia when we come to this land. We will always consider providing student services as the priority when we serve in university governance.
These are our inner thoughts as Chinese international students. We clearly know what our original intentions were when we set foot in Australia and what kinds of goals and dreams we have developed since being here. We also believe that with further discussion, and using our voices, especially those international students who have already made huge contribution to campus governance, the misunderstandings of Chinese students by the Australian society can be eliminated in the near future.