I refer to the Crikey article yesterday by Fergus Ryan (“Kevin Rudd thinks he’s still relevant to China-Australia relations”). I presume this is the same Fergus Ryan who used to be a journalist for the Murdoch media. Remarkably, that fact seems not to have been disclosed under his byline in the article posted.

If Ryan, or for that matter Crikey, are interested in a substantive presentation of my views on Turnbull’s mismanagement of the Australia-China relationship, then I suggest they read the full text of my op-ed in The Weekend Australian on February 24 this year.

The methodology employed by Ryan is amateur beyond belief. Over the years, I have posted over 600 times on Sina Weibo and sent some 12,400 tweets. This has given rise to thousands of comments of all shades on both platforms. Based on all that, Ryan randomly selects five posts and a handful of comments to prove his contention concerning my views on the Australia-China relationship, China more generally and alleged inconsistencies therein. This represents a sample of 0.04%. One would expect better methodological standards from a high-school student.

The bottom line is, Ryan’s polemic has nothing to do with the evidence. Given his historical relationship with the Murdoch media, he seems simply to be running a line on behalf of Malcolm Turnbull, in an attempt to defend Turnbull’s otherwise indefensible mismanagement of the Australia-China relationship. Predictable. But let’s not pretend it represents objective journalism, let alone scholarship or rigorous research.

How this sort of shoddy analysis is consistent with the independent research standards also required of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (which is funded by the Australian government), where Ryan also apparently works, is something for both he and his employer to explain.

Peter Fray

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