Christopher Pyne China Beijing Human Rights Yang Hengjun
Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne speaks to journalists at the Australian Embassy in Beijing (Image: AP/Andy Wong)

Over the weekend, readers were a little sceptical of the decision to criticise China’s arrest of Australian-Chinese writer Yang Henjun (which Michael Sainsbury said reflected the sharp rise in China’s human rights violations) when Australia has its own violations to reckon with. Elsewhere, readers continued to discuss Labor’s path from progressive politics to neoliberalism.

On China’s arrest of Yang Hengjun

Gavin Moodie writes: Yes, but what could Australia do — boycott China until it meets Australia’s human rights standards, when we don’t boycott Saudi Arabia, Russia, Zimbabwe?

John Richardson writes: As long as our government is willing to turn its back on Julian Assange and persecute Australians by conducting secret trials, we are hardly in a position to engage in self-righteous criticism of China or any other country.

Justin O’Connor writes: Australia led the push back against Huawei, which “resulted in the November 2018 detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou”, a Chinese citizen. I have no idea about Iranian sanction-busting (a US imposed set of “global rules”) nor about the reason for Yang’s detention, though extreme China sceptic Bill Bishop has already warned that the waters might be murkier than at first sight. Surely there needs to be some slight doubt about an article where the arrest of a Chinese citizen is fine, but that of an Australian one not fine.

On Labor losing its way

Ben Debney writes: Labor was doomed the moment it had any chance of attaining power. The moment it did, it became a magnet for opportunists and careerists who saw in it a path to power. As these elements took hold, it watered down its policies as threats to its own power, and in deference to the moneyed interests who wield true power in society.

In this way Labor was hollowed out from within, to the point where it forgot how to tell the difference between social democracy and neoliberalism, and freedom and privilege. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, and those who do are condemned to look on helplessly. 

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