Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz has denied claims his questioning of three Chinese Australians during a Senate inquiry was "racist" after he demanded they condemn the Chinese Communist Party.
Australian-born research fellow at Per Capita, Osmond Chiu, appeared at the inquiry into issues facing diaspora communities in Australia, but was taken aback by Senator Abetz's immediate line of questioning.
Senator Abetz asked the three people "whether they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Community Party dictatorship". Mr Chiu said he did not support the CCP or its actions, but did not believe it helpful to "get into a political game of denouncements".
Yun Jiang, also giving evidence, condemned the Chinese government's human rights abuses, but said it was unfair to "force all Chinese Australians to take a position or political action when similar requests are not being made to other Australians".
Wesa Chau agreed that it was "unfair" to request witnesses to condemn a foreign government.
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Following the hearing, Mr Chiu said he was expecting "an earnest and respectful discussion" about issues facing multicultural communities, and did not "expect to have my loyalty to our country questioned".
"The implication that all Australians of Chinese heritage need to prove our commitment to democracy by condemning a foreign government is absurd and, frankly, racist," he said.
My statement in response to my appearance at a Senate inquiry where I and two other Chinese-Australians had our Australianness questioned by Senator Eric Abetz and were forced to undergo a public loyalty test. #auspol#Melbourne@redrabbleroz@firstname.lastname@example.org/zokUCAdDxj— Wesa Chau (@wesachau) October 15, 2020
"My family has been part of the Australian community for 50 years. Since my parents arrived in this country, the conversation about racism and diversity has advanced in leaps and bounds - but we've still got a long way to go."
Senator Abetz denied the allegation that his questioning was racist.
"The racism allegation is a nasty allegation to avoid and sidestep condemning the heinous CCP dictatorship," he said.
"The CCP dictatorship demands condemnation if we are to truly champion the cause of the oppressed.
"Many in the Chinese diaspora in Australia are expecting all of us to condemn and call out the dictatorship."