In the seemingly endless deterioration in the relationship between Australia and China, it was only a matter time before attention turned to the large number of Chinese overseas students at Australian universities.
In a submission to the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre has suggested universities should seek out applicants from "ally nations" in their quest for foreign students.
The CSCRC, which was awarded $50 million in Commonwealth funding over seven years in 2018, was established by the federal government to enhance Australia's cyber security capability and capacity the previous year.
While its activities have generally been low key that changed this week with its recommendation to the parliamentary joint committee that the nation's universities shift to recruiting students from nations socially, politically, and strategically aligned with Australia.
"This will only serve to strengthen Australia's relationships with its key allies and drive mutually beneficial partnerships," it said.
The recommendation comes hot on the heels of the recent passage of the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act during the last sitting week of Parliament which will allow the federal government to overturn international agreements negotiated by other bodies - including universities - deemed not to be in the national interest.
The government, and the centre it funds, appear to be singing from the same song sheet.
Unfortunately there is little reason to believe the proposal would directly prevent events such as the massive data breach at the Australian National University in 2018 or even attract notable numbers of non-Chinese overseas students.
It seems more likely, given the rising tide of sinophobia that has come to dominate the national debate over relations between Canberra and Beijing, the recommendation will exacerbate many of the admittedly serious problems it is purportedly trying to solve.
That is not to say, given the demonstrated willingness of the Chinese Communist Party government to weaponise trade, tourism, and academic and cultural exchanges, that Australian universities shouldn't be casting the widest possible net for overseas students.
There are real issues of foreign interference that Australian universities are already grappling with.
But singling out "ally nations" as a preferred source of overseas students is problematic on several levels.
To do so would be a self-limiting strategy given Australia can literally count the number of its key allies on the fingers of one hand. They are the members of the "Five Eyes" group and "The Quad". "Five Eyes" consists of Australia, the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. "The Quad" comprises the US, Australia, India and Japan.
India, the only one of these nations that sends students abroad in numbers comparable to China, is already well represented in the Australian tertiary education space.
Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai-shek, two of China's leading nationalist party revolutionaries, studied in Japan and Honolulu respectively. Zhou Enlai, the long serving communist foreign minister who helped engineer the re-opening of China to the world in the 1970s, studied in Japan and spent an extended period in France and England.
Individuals shape events. We should welcome Chinese students and then immerse them deeply in our own way of life rather than either block their entry or treat them as little more than a source of revenue for our tertiary education sector.