Scratch a News Ltd journalist and you sometimes get a tabloid scribbler, incapable of marshalling the relevant facts.

Take Steve Lewis in The Courier Mail this morning. Here’s what he wrote:

China is secretly helping to bankroll Kevin Rudd’s economic rescue plan as concerns grow over the relationship between the Communist superpower and the Labor Government.

The Courier Mail can confirm that China is a significant investor in Australian government bonds — used by Canberra to fund billions of dollars in emergency spending.

Market insiders believe China is buying 15 to 20 per cent of the $2 billion in Treasury securities being issued every week.

This would make China the single biggest lender to Australia, although details of who owns the bonds are cloaked in secrecy.

The program, authorised by Treasurer Wayne Swan, will leave Australia with a debt bill approaching $200 billion.

In response, the Opposition has raised concerns Australia could end up politically “handcuffed” to China as a result. China’s appetite for Australian bonds comes just days after the Prime Minister secretly met China’s fifth most powerful figure, Li Changchun, at the Lodge.

China’s Ambassador to Australia, Zhang Junsai, declined to comment. But China has made no secret of interest in buying Australian investments.

China has its sights on a number of prized infrastructure and resource assets. The most sensitive is Chinalco’s $27 billion bid to lift its stake in miner, Rio Tinto, to 18 per cent.

Last night, the Coalition warned the emergence of China as a major lender needed to be weighed against the national interest.

“Australia’s national interest needs to be protected by the Rudd Government,” shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, said. “If it appears that a foreign government is the largest lender to Australia, then ultimately that weighs heavily on the national interest.”

China has amassed a huge $1 trillion-plus portfolio of US bonds, recently flexing its political muscle as the US economy fell into recession.

“We welcome foreign investment but not foreign investment that is handcuffed to political interests,” Mr Hockey said.

Senior government figures privately admit the growing level of Chinese investment raises significant issues, including national security.

Talk about nonsense. Not a quote, figure or fact in this story to support the contention. Not one.

And why China now? Because of the Joel Fitzgibbon story and the China angle. And the fact that News Ltd was beaten on the story.

Do you reckon Steve came upon this one by himself, or was he led there by someone from the Opposition, say Joe Hockey?

News Ltd is tip-toeing down the old Aussie racist route of raising the “Yellow Peril”. Why not Japanese, Australian and other buyers of our bonds?

It’s also interesting that the story was splashed in redneck Queensland, where Mr Rudd comes from, as does Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

And Steve forget to mention that Kevin Rudd’s daughter has married a Chinese man.

Oh, and Steve’s boss, Rupert is married to who? Oh, that’s right: Wendi Deng.

The real story is that Joel Fitzgibbon is an idiot because he failed to declare trips and other gifts. For that he should be flicked, not for associating with a Chinese woman.

Otherwise defence will have to investigate the Prime Minister, and Rupert Murdoch. Ms Deng has more influence over Australian culture and business than Joel Fitzgibbon’s friend had. But you never see News Ltd journalists pointing that out.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey