Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun “expressed China’s strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the Australian side on its allowing the visit of Rebiya Kadeer, China’s Xinhua newsagency reported on the weekend.

“Zhang demanded it immediately correct its wrong doings and do not allow Kadeer to visit Australia.”

Meantime Chinese hackers — some Australian-based — vandalised the website of the Melbourne International Film Festival, which has had the temerity to screen a documentary on Kadeer. What are the chances that the Chinese Government, which closely monitors the behaviour of Chinese students abroad, had nothing to do with the attack on the MIFF website?

Inevitably, China’s thuggish response has merely served to draw attention to the plight of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang — a people and a province about which few westerners would have had the faintest idea several months ago. The visit by Kadeer, the businesswoman turned, according to China, terrorist leader, will now draw far more attention in Australia.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith should also be calling in the Chinese Ambassador to protest at the attempted sabotage of an Australian cultural event.

By way of more direct action, Australian hackers might care to turn their attention to suitably amending some Chinese websites. The only problem is, the likely targets for such action are already so absurd any vandalism might not be noticed.

The “Chinese Tibet Information Centre“, for example, already reads like an Onion parody, with headlines like “Lhoka: soldiers get along well with residents”. And Chinese Government websites are so slow your average hacker is likely to get bored and leave.

For those with the patience, the Chinese Government’s website on culture might be worth a visit, if you can endure all that cultural triumphalism.

Juvenile? Maybe. But this is a state — an emerging superpower — with the mentality of an 8-year old.

Peter Fray

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